15 Standout Routines From 'So You Think You Can Dance's First 15 Years (VIDEO)
Get aboard the Hot Tamale Train — because we’re celebrating 15 years of So You Think You Can Dance showstoppers.
SYTYCD debuted a decade and a half ago — with more than 21 million viewers tuning into the show’s series premiere on July 20, 2005 — and has since presented the talents of hundreds of young performers hoping to become “America’s favorite dancer.”
The reality competition had to call off its 17th season amid this year’s pandemic crisis, but at least we can relive some of the greatest dances from seasons past. Here are our picks for some of the best dances of SYTYCD’s run so far.
Season 2: Benji & Heidi’s “Black Mambo”
Season 2 victor Benji Schwimmer and his cousin Heidi Groskreutz nailed what choreographer Alex Da Silva called “the fastest mambo you’re ever gonna see.”
Season 2: Travis & Heidi’s “Calling You”
Season 2 runner-up Travis Wall, who has since become an SYTYCD choreographer and earned nine back-to-back Emmy nominations, benched the competition with his and Groskreutz’s emotional “Calling You” routine.
Season 3: Lacey & Danny’s “Hip Hip Chin Chin”
Benji’s younger sister Lacey did the Schwimmer name proud—alongside the late, great Danny Tidwell—with this energetic samba.
Season 4: Mark & Chelsie’s “Bleeding Love”
Married choreographers Tabitha and Napoleon D’umo scored an Emmy nomination for Mark Kanemura and Chelsea Hightower’s hip-hop routine. (There’s a reason this clip has racked up more than 1 million views on YouTube.)
Season 4: Joshua and Katee’s “No Air”
The D’umos struck gold again that same season with this lyrical hip-hop number, with Season 4 winner Joshua Allen portraying a soldier going back to war and Katee Shean playing his distraught partner.
Season 5: Kayla & Kupono’s “Gravity”
Kūpono Aweau personified the addiction haunting Kayla Radomski’s character in this unforgettable contemporary routine from Mia Michaels.
Season 7: Allison & Alex’s “Hallelujah”
With choreography by SYTYCD MVP Sonya Tayeh, Allison Holker and Alex Wong make Jeff Buckley’s cover of “Hallelujah” even more heartbreaking.
Season 8: Sasha & tWitch’s “Misty Blue”
Season 8 runner-up Sasha Mallory and returning all-star Stephen “tWitch” Boss broke through their characters’ breakfast-time ennui with this hip-hop routine—set to a classic track from blues singer Dorothy Moore.
Season 8: Melanie & Neil’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart”
Season 8 winner Melanie Moore and Neil Haskell leapt into SYTYCD glory with this gravity-defying contemporary routine. Even Lady Gaga was gaga about it!
Season 9: Lindsay & Cole’s “Unstoppable”
“Unstoppable,” indeed! Lindsay Arnold and Cole Horibe offered one of the best pasodoble routines judge Nigel Lythgoe had ever seen on the show.
Season 10: Jasmine & Comfort’s “Run the World”
Who run the world? Dancers Jasmine Harper and Comfort Fedoke, for starters, but also the choreographers fans know and love as Nappytabs.
Season 10: Tucker & Robert’s “Medicine”
Tucker Knox and Robert Roldan brought everyone to tears with this contemporary routine choreographed by Wall—especially because both dancers got their own second chances after surviving car crashes that could have ended their careers.
Season 11: Zack and Amy’s “Europe, After the Rain”
Tayeh gave another stunning routine in Season 11, choreographing this tribute to a late friend, a routine performed with amazing athleticism by Zack Everhart and Season 10 winner Amy Yakima.
Season 13: J.T. and Robert’s “The Mirror”
During SYTYCD’s “Next Generation” season, 10-year-old runner-up J.T. Church mirrored the aforementioned Roldan for a contemporary dance that had fans seeing double.
Season 14: All-Stars’ “Strange Fruit”
Horrified by the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Wall choreographed a group routine set to the haunting “Strange Fruit” cover by Nina Simone. “This one actually made me feel ill, physically sick, while watching it,” Lythgoe later told Dance Spirit. “I had such a powerful emotional response to the choreography.”