Sigh. Season 9 of So You Think You Can Dance started out so promising. It even had me swearing on my blog from the sheer excitement of it all. But it slowly went downhill and devolved into the Cyrus show and that was just sad. Contemporary/jazz numbers reached a whopping high of 46% of the total dances, although I don’t know whether that was due to the pimping of Cyrus or simply business as usual.

It’s a real shame because the first episode seemed to be a return to the original energy of the show’s early seasons. We had a glorious contemporary number from Sonya Tayeh (“Turning Page”), the Titanic-themed “Unchained Melody” from Travis Wall, the delightfully fun, although in no way hip hop, “Lovecats” from NappyTabs, and this incredible paso doble from Jason Gilkison:

While that might have been the best paso doble this show has seen, it wasn’t the only top-notch ballroom during the season, which saw a supremely graceful foxtrot and an elegant Argentine tango in just the second episode. With three ballroom dancers and three ballet dancers on the roster I expected nothing less. Yet, with two of those men, Nick and Daniel, quickly exiting, it was hard to keep up with that precedent. However, with the arrival of the all-stars, we at least got this energetic jive, a dance that hasn’t had much success on the show, and, even more rare, a delightful quickstep:

Also in the second episode, we were treated to this Broadway confection (a genre I’m on record as not liking, especially when choreographed by Tyce Diorio, which this is not) by Sean Cheesman:

Surprisingly, with the judges pushing Cyrus so hard, we didn’t get much good hip hop. Cyrus’s numbers (“Toxic” and “Cinema”) were good, but I actually thought his partners outshone him. “My Homies Still” by Luther Brown wasn’t great, but at least it was a return to old-school hip hop and Witney didn’t embarrass herself (her pants are another story). And even I have to admit I really did like the season’s final number:

But I was doubly sorry that Cyrus seemed to take over the season because there were a number of dancers and partnerships I really liked: Cyrus’s original partner, Eliana, but also Tiffany & George, Amelia & Will, and also Lindsay & Cole. I even grew to like Witney & Chehon. All of them should have made it further than Cyrus.

My choreographer of the season was Sonya Tayeh, who had a number of her usual, quirky jazz pieces, but also memorable contemporary works such as “Turning Page” mentioned above and the two dances below:

Meanwhile, Stacey Tookey gave us “I Will Always Love You” with Witney & Chehon, “Leave” with all-star Allison & Chehon, and “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)” with Eliana & all-star Alex Wong.

In addition to having a night dedicated to reprising her earlier work, Mia Michaels also conceptualized this piece about hatred, inspired by two rams battling it out. The scream at the end was a bit much but otherwise I liked it.

Finally, I leave you with a rarity, the two season winners (male and female) dancing in their own style, which just happened to be classical ballet for both:

To be continued (at the end of Season 10)…

For previous posts in this series, see The Best of SYTYCD: Season 1, The Best of SYTYCD: Season 2, The Best of SYTYCD: Season 3, The Best of SYTYCD: Season 4, The Best of SYTYCD: Season 5, The Best of SYTYCD: Season 6, The Best of SYTYCD: Season 7, and The Best of SYTYCD: Season 8.