SALT LAKE CITY — Performing a gorgeous contemporary routine, Utah's Stephanie Sosa made the cut and advanced to the top 10 in last night’s episode of “So You Think You Can Dance.” Last year, the Orem native got cut right before the top 20, so this marks the farthest she’s gone in the competition.
The episode focused on this year’s top 10 female dancers and aimed to cut the top 10 down to the five best female dancers by the end of the night. In order to do so, each dancer was paired with an all-star — a member of the top 10 from a previous season — and worked with a choreographer on a duet outside of their normal style of dance.
Sosa, a ballroom dancer, was paired with Robert Roldan, a contemporary dancer who placed third in Season 7 of “So You Think.” She learned a contemporary routine with choreographer Mandy Moore that was designed to stretch the limits of her technique and her emotional expression.
Because there were only 10 female performers featured on this episode, we got to see much more of the Sosa’s personality and work behind the scenes. “The Academy was amazing,” Sosa told Cat Deeley, the host of the show, as she began rehearsing for her duet.
Since contemporary is not Sosa's usual style, she had a learning curve in rehearsals. “Stephanie’s challenge is to not clam up,” Moore said during Monday's episode, helping Sosa express the vulnerable emotion contemporary routines require while teaching her the choreography.
“Stephanie is a powerhouse,” Roldan, her partner, said. “But I think that she needs to work on being raw and vulnerable.”
Did Sosa absorb enough of the lessons Moore and Roldan helped her learn? As she waited to go onstage for her performance with Roldan by her side, Sosa told Deeley, “I feel like I’ve grown tremendously. I feel like I can go on the stage now and just be me.”
With Sosa and Roldan ready onstage, “You Say” by Lauren Daigle began to play. The duet was full of dramatic lifts and partner work, and Sosa seemed to let some raw emotion out. When the two finished, Roldan left the stage and Sosa stepped up to the mic to hear the judges’ feedback.
While judge Dominic “D-Trix” Sandoval wasn’t completely wowed, he thought Sosa put on an “overall great performance.”
Like Sandoval, judge Laurieann Gibson was impressed, but skeptical. “You danced it well, but what I was missing was you surrendering to the vulnerability,” Gibson told Sosa. “I need that from you.”
Sosa looked nervous as Nigel Lythgoe, generally the most critical judge on the show, took his turn. But while he critiqued a botched landing when Sosa came down from a lift, he was thoroughly positive. “You have been stunning all the way through this competition and you continue to be so,” Lythgoe said.
"So You Think You Can Dance" judge and choreographer Mary Murphy, who has a soft spot for ballroom dancers like Sosa, told the Sosa after her performance, “You’re … a star.”
Sosa was the final female dancer to perform on Monday night's episode, so after her routine, all 10 performers walked onstage to await the judges’ announcement of the top five women for this season of “So You Think.” When the judges called her name as one of the top five women, she covered her face with her hands in happiness.
“This is a dream; I’m so happy right now,” Sosa said after the judges announced the five dancers who made the cut. “I made Top 10! America, I’m coming for you!”
Sosa’s spot in the top 10 dancers — which fill out out next week when her brother, Ezra Sosa, and the rest of the male dancers compete for the top five men spots — earns her a spot onstage during the “So You Think You Can Dance Live” tour starting October of this year and a chance to compete for America’s Favorite Dancer in “SYTYCD” studio shows, which will begin airing in August.
"So You Think You Can Dance" airs on Fox on Mondays at 8 p.m. MDT