How did Cole develop his unique style? He was a shy kid in Hawaii -- though crazy cute, his pictures show -- and after he suffered bullying, his parents put him into martial arts to learn how to defend himself. He won a silver medal in the Junior Olympics and then later got into dancing because he wanted to be an actor. From there he came up with his "fusion" style, which he shows off in his solo. It's not super dancy, but it's really different, and I like it that it's something different than most of the other solos we've seen a million times.
Cyrus is up next in an all-Atlanta routine with last year's winner Melanie, doing a Mandy Moore jazz number that is promised to be very fast. They're dancing to "Badder Badder Schwing" by Freddy Fresh featuring Fatboy Slim. The funny thing about this dance, which is really funky and sometimes slo-mo and fun, is that Cyrus doesn't actually hit all of the moves as cleanly as Melanie does. And given his style, I'm shocked by this -- I almost wonder if he's just thinking ahead too much? He's good, but not as good as I wanted him to be. Jesse loves him, and tells him that he is going to be associated with the show forever, which I think is totally true. I do love Cyrus because he's just soaked up all of the styles and learning and has this hunger for dance in any form that's a pleasure to witness. Nigel reminds us that people are voting for their "favorite" and not the "best" dancer, so that there isn't a collective coronary if Cyrus winds up winning it all. He does advise Cyrus to do some homework about dance history so that he learns things like who Bob Fosse is, especially since this dance was Fosse-esque. He also gives Mandy and Melanie well-deserved shout-outs. Mary admits his steps weren't perfect but gushes about how hard he's trying and how well he's doing so far outside of his own style.
Eliana is another Florida kid, and after her parents divorced, she lived alone with her mom until she moved to New York when she was 16 to go to the Joffrey Ballet school. Her mom seems completely awesome and so supportive and proud. Eliana's solo is breathtaking and Cat rightly tells her she's going to inspire a lot of little girls to become ballet dancers.