Well that settles it. On Wednesday night of So You Think You Can Dance's second round of the Top 20 competition, the dancers were paired up with their official partners and contemporary dancer Ricky Ubeda and tapper Valerie Rockey were a match made in dance heaven. The two standouts performed a beautiful contemporary piece choreographed by former SYTYCD finalists and all-around badass dancer Travis Wall and it proved that both Ricky and Valerie are meant to be in the Top 4. But that was a given from the start of their journeys.
To be honest, when we were first introduced to Valerie during her audition, I wasn't expecting much from her. I could tell she was a great tapper, she was very clearly a great performer and she's as cute as a freakin' button. But for some reason, I just assumed she wouldn't be able to handle the more technically challenging contemporary, jazz or ballroom routines, especially if they were to be choreographed by people like Sonya Tayeh and Travis Wall. Boy was I proven wrong. The tapper sailed through LA callback week, wowing the judges during the ballroom round especially. And during the first week of the Top 20 competition when she was allowed to dance in her own style with fellow tapper Zack, the two tore the floor up with a fantastic number.
Contemporary dancer Ricky Ubeda seemed to be a much more obvious possible contestant during his journey to Top 20. He seemed to breeze through his audition and callback week, though we didn't see much of his talents in other styles and were really only treated to his fantastic final solo before he was chosen for the live competition. And of course during the first week of Top 20, he was able to dance in his own style and was incredible. On Wednesday, he was lucky enough to get contemporary again and elevated Valerie as a dancer and partner due to his immense talent and partnering skills.
My only worry with Ricky is that we really have yet to see his variety. I want to see him tackle something completely out of his comfort zone, perhaps something like krumping, African Jazz, or Bollywood. I want to see the adorable partners take on routines that take them away from their cute personas and make them really hit it hard. But that isn't taking anything away from the Travis Wall number they danced on Wednesday night. In fact, the piece was incredibly challenging and both dancers really stepped up. Then again Travis Wall's routines have a history of pushing contestants to the top of the pack. SYTYCD Season 5 winner Jeanine Mason and finalist Jason instantly became two dancers to beat when they performed the first ever Travis Wall routine on the show.
Then there was Season 8 fan favorite Kent Boyd and all-star Neil's contemporary routine about backstabbing friends that not only showed Kent's dance maturity, but also proved he was more than just the goofy kid from Wapakoneta, Ohio. This dance really led to a streak of routines for Kent. That emotional and dance growth coupled with his adorable personality caused him to become the season's runner-up in a year filled with incredible dancers like Billy Bell and Alex Freakin' Wong.
And finally there's one of the best routines from Season 10 which features winner Amy Yakima dancing with Travis for the first time since his time as a contestant in Season 2. If Amy wasn't already popular for dancing with Fik-Shun, this number would have been her big break. But even with her popularity, again Travis was able to find an emotional maturity in a dancer who was technically brilliant but always seemed slightly young while dancing. After this routine, that never became an issue again.
So Ricky and Valerie got extremely lucky to be able to get a dance from an amazing choreographer like Travis. But the two contestants are likely to bring it every week and in every style thrown at them. I just can't wait to see it happen.