07/21/2011 at 09:00 AM EDT
The top ten took to the stage with returning all-stars on Wednesday's So You Think You Can Dance
, and while some contestants were lost in the shadows of the superior veterans, others outshined their more experienced counterparts.
"The all-stars coming in was almost like a dream," Melanie Moore told reporters after Wednesday's show. "They brought such an air of positivity."
And the positivity was infectious.
After landing in the bottom last week, former partners Jordan Casanova and Tadd Gadduang both wowed the judges by managing to outshine season 5's Brandon and "out hip-hop" season 4's Comfort.
"I didn't expect that at all," Casanova said of judge Nigel Lythgoe's comment that he couldn't take his eyes of her during the routine.
"Working with Brandon was amazing and I am just so grateful and so thankful," she added.
For some dancers, the chance to work with all-stars was also an opportunity to develop a chemistry that had been lacking with their past partners.
Caitlyn Lawson received a standing ovation from judge Mary Murphy, who called her passionate tango with season 3's Pasha "a treat to the eyes," but her ex-partner Mitchell Kelly was not as lucky.
"I just did what I had to do. I had to make the dance come to life and that's what I did tonight and I'm very proud of it," Kelly said of being told his Broadway routine "seemed very disjointed" by guest judge Neil Patrick Harris
Another contestant who was able to find a connection with their all-star was Sasha Mallory, whose former partner Alexander Fost was eliminated the week before
"It's not that [Alex and I] didn't connect – it's just everyone's different. We didn't mesh. But there's something about Twitch, you can't help but connect with him," Mallory said of her emotional hip-hop routine with season 4's Twitch that Lythgoe said was "the first time I've seen you have chemistry with your partner."
Mary Murphy took her praise even further, telling Mallory, "you're an all-star tonight."
And that accolade could not have come at a more vital stage in the competition. With only ten contestants left – and the dancers being voted on individually for the first time this season – Thursday's eliminations (8 p.m. ET) will send home two dancers, who will most likely lose their opportunity to become an all-star themselves.