Honestly, I can’t really assess this season properly because I barely watched it, which I guess tells you all you need to know. The first episodes didn’t really impress and I quickly found myself watching out of the corner of my eye. Again, this is not because the dancers were not talented, they were, but rather because there just didn’t seem to be any life or energy left in this show. The judges had their favorites and the whole dance-for-your-life aspect seemed rather forced. While the season picked up some momentum when the All-Stars came on board, I am decidedly over the All-Star concept—unless they want to have an only All-Star season where they are actually competing, then I might get back on board.

What’s more, despite having two ballroom dancers make the Top Ten, ballroom styles as a whole fell even further behind in the overall dance count (21%), dropping to third behind contemporary/jazz styles (43%) and hip-hop (23%). However, I will concede there was a marked uptick in both costuming and music selection this season, which was nice to see.

Regardless of my feelings about the show’s direction and whether I will continue watching next season, there’s no doubt that Season 10 had one of the most talented Top Tens in the show’s history. Here they are in “The Gravel Road” by Christopher Scott…

… as well as in a few more dances that made me sit up and take notice.

Eventual winners Amy and Fik-Shun became the couple to beat in the very first week. She had the technique and he had the personality. While Fik-Shun wouldn’t have been my choice for the best all-around male dancer, his solos were masterful and a joy to watch.

My choice for best male dancer would have been Paul. He and his original partner, Makenzie, had many great numbers (“You’ll Find a Way” and “The Edge of Glory”), although my favorite was in only their second week together:

Jenna and Tucker were another couple blessed with great choreography, from the hip-jazz (seriously, is this even a thing?) of “Dangerous” to the very literal “Hanging by a Thread”:

Jasmine and Aaron were a great couple, and both ended up in the Top 4, but I just couldn’t get into many of their dances. “Gold Rush” was quite fun though.

When given the option, Jasmine would later choose to again dance out of her style with the same choreographers, Tabitha & Napoleon, along with all-star Comfort, in my favorite number from the Top 4 episode.

Finally, Hayley was a contestant who got saddled with a lame-duck partner in the beginning, but because of injury got to dance with her choreographer, the incredible Leonardo Barrionuevo, for the best ballroom number of the season.

One interesting use of the All-Stars this season was as choreographer-dancers. While not all attempts were successful, Comfort’s hip-hop with Paul, Dmitry’s rumba with Hayley, and Mark’s jazz-funk with Jenna were all very well done. Naturally, Travis blew them all away:

Given that a return to the days of ballroom domination is unlikely, it was nice to see so many varied styles of choreography within the contemporary styles. Even Tyce Diorio had to step up his game.

I leave you with his group dance for the Top 20 (“The Heroic Weather-Conditions of the Universe Part 1: A Veiled Mist”):

To be continued (with a round-up of the best of the best)…

For previous posts in this “Best of SYTYCD” series, see Season 1, Season 2, Season 3, Season 4, Season 5, Season 6, Season 7, Season 8, and Season 9.