If it’s summer, then you know it’s time for Fox’s long-running dance competition series, “So You Think You Can Dance.”
It’s Season 11 for the series and a group of young dancers will once again vie to win the esteemed title of ‘America’s Favorite Dancer’ with Nigel Lythgoe sharing the judging duties with Mary Murphy and the best host in the business, Cat Deeley.
But, there are changes afoot in the show and who better to lay them out but Lythgoe, who wears various hats as Exec Producer and Co-Creator with Simon Fuller. Lythgoe talked to the press recently and shared what we’ll see this season and how exactly Justin Bieber came to be a part of the new season (and what his role will be).
One Winner, Not Two: While the past few seasons have had both a male and female winner, Lythgoe said that this season there will only be one. “We’re going back to the individual winner,” he explained. “We’ve been quite lenient in the past and said, ‘Which is your favorite male, which is your favorite female?’ but we’re going to make America choose.”
Dance Crews: During the audition episodes, Lythgoe said, “we’re going to introduce two [dance] crews in each show and ask the public to tweet which crew out of the two that they would like to see in the studio.” This will go on only during the four audition episodes. And who will introduce the crews…?
…Justin Bieber!?! Turns out The Biebs is a fan of the show and while he’s always been too busy to do anything with the show, Lythgoe revealed, “we found out where he was, asked him to do it, he was thrilled to do it; we shot out to Cannes and shot it in Cannes.” Bieber will do the four introductions for the dance crew competition.
New Dance Styles: One good thing about the dance world, it’s still evolving and we’ll see that in the new season of “SYTYCD.” Lythgoe explained, “I’m still shocked at what’s happening in America. There’s an awful lot of sort of underground dance-like jitting and bopping…Oakland’s got Turfing. Memphis has got Jookin’. So we want to try and show these different sort of urban folk dances that are happening now and they all go under the banner of hip-hop but there are many more sort of divisions of it.”
Choreographers: Sure, the show is known for the new dance talent that comes out every year but the show also regularly showcases the top tiered choreographers that create the routines seen in every episode. Lythgoe is even surprised at their popularity and admitted, “I think it’s something that we didn’t originally realize how it important it would be for the choreographers. We focused on the dancers and what the dancers had to do, but of course it’s just as important for what the choreographers do.” Spencer Liff, for example, has been with the show for years but has been busy staging for the Tony-nominated Broadway revival of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” starring nominee Neil Patrick Harris.
Last Year’s Winners: The charismatic duo of Fik-Shun Stegall and Amy Yakima were paired together last season and ended up winning the male and female winner titles. Lythgoe admitted his early reservations about Fik-Shun. “I’ve always thought with Fik-shun that everything he does as a solo artist has been tremendous,” he said. “My only worry with Fik-shun was how would he perform with a partner? He’s a bit like Cyrus [from season 9]. He was never, ever going to point his toes in any way, shape or form, so therefore he needed charisma and his creativity to get through.”
Sometimes, he said, even the partnerships surprise him. “In putting [Fik-shun] with Amy…we knew she was a really strong contemporary dancer and so we always try and pair them up like a jigsaw puzzle with the strengths of one and the strengths of the other combining. We didn’t realize that we were going to putting together such a dynamic pairing, as it turned out.”
Guest Judges: Expect many of the same faces like Adam Shankman to be back at the judges’ table as well as celebrity guest judges. “Christina Applegate is back. Jenna Dewan was tremendous. She’s coming back. Jenna Elfman, Little Buck, who’s an incredible Memphis joker, is back…Wayne Brady is back. Billy Porter from ‘Kinky Boots’ is a judge.” We’ll also see Jeffrey Ballet’s Fabrice Calmels and Olympic Gold Medalist Tara Lipinski.
“American Idol”: Lythgoe hasn’t been involved with “Idol” since his departure in 2012 and said despite the show getting “dumped on right, left and center” for low ratings, he said that’s just because it’s not getting 35 million like it used to. And while he said the long-running singing competition (also on Fox) is “a wonderful platform for young singers and young talent that is nowhere else’ he also stated that he’s not a regular viewer these days. “It upsets me, personally, having left the show, to watch it now. I’m still hugely supportive of it and I love the judges. I can’t honestly say that I’ve seen too much of the talent but I wish it every success.”
“So You Think You Can Dance” airs Wednesdays at 8pm on Fox.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.
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