Facebook Twitter

Roy dancer dazzles ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ judges, soars into the show’s top 8

SHARE Roy dancer dazzles ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ judges, soars into the show’s top 8

Utah jazz dancer Hailee Payne dazzled the judges on "So You Think You Can Dance" Monday night, claiming a spot in season 12's top 8 dancers.

After a powerful group number choreographed by Sonya Tayeh, Roy native Hailee Payne impressed the judges with the first duet of the night with former contestant Brandon Bryant: a "quirky," fast-paced Broadway number to Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett's rendition of "It Don't Mean a Thing."

The piece earned the duo a standing ovation from the crowd and judges, and a jumping and clapping ovation from the choreographer, Tony Award winner Warren Carlyle.

"There is no one quite like you, Hailee," said judge and executive producer Nigel Lythgoe after all of the excitement. "It's not just your body; it's in your mind and your soul, too. That's why you give off such positive energy."

Pop icon Paula Abdul called Payne's performance a "throwback" to Liza Minelli and R&B artist Jasen Derulo called her a "star."

"You breathe so much beautiful life into every character you portray," said Abdul. "You just took my breath away tonight."

Since the competition was narrowed down to the top 10 last week, there were a few changes this week. Along with performing a duet with an "all-star" (a former contestant), the dancers also each perfomed a self-choreographed solo.

Payne performed her solo to "Nothing to Lose" from the television show Empire. Every contestant danced their solos to a song from the show this week.

Before her solo, viewers learned a bit more about the Utah native.

"I've lived in Roy my entire life with my mom, my dad and my brother," Payne said in a recording.

A third-time auditoner for the show this season, Payne shared her season 10 experience.

"Season 10, when I auditioned in Memphis, was actually really hard for me. I found out my parents were getting divorced ... it was a hard time," said Payne. "But dance was there. That was the one constant."

Payne said that, throughout all of that, her family was there to support her every time she auditioned for the show, not to mention all of her dance competitions before that.

"(I'm) so glad that I still have a strong relationship with my dad and my mom," said Payne. "It's just amazing that we can still have that family bond. I don't think I would be where I am without it."

Once again, Payne had enough votes to keep her out of the bottom group of dancers and made it into the top 8. Freestyler Jessica "JJ" Rabone and contemporary dancer Edson Juarez were eliminated from the show.

To find out if Payne will make it into the top 6, check out "So You Think You Can Dance" on Fox 7 p.m. Monday, August 24.