Get ready for Cat Deeley’s fierce fashion, Lil' C’s fictional vocabulary, Mary Murphy’s high-pitched holler and, of course, some insanely talented dancers! That’s right, "So You Think You Can Dance" is back for a new season tonight. And Season 9—with a brand new one-night-only format—will certainly be an exciting one. DS chatted with our favorite judge and yours, Nigel Lythgoe, about what we can expect.
Dance Spirit: How do you feel about this season being aired one night per week instead of two?
Nigel Lythgoe: Putting the results in the same show as the performances means we’ve got to be very strong in our thoughts. We’ll have to take into account the routine from the week before, what America thinks and then the routine this week, which America can’t vote on. The judges will be more important than ever this year.
DS: And what about crowning two winners?
NL: It’s a major change, but it’s something we should have done years ago to be honest with you.
DS: What’s your favorite part of the season each year—the auditions, the top 20, the tour?
NL: Well if you ask me towards the end of the series, I would say the end of the series, because we just get so tired at that point. But at the beginning, I love the audition process. I’m inspired by it to be frank with you. Not all the kids that I think are fantastic get through, but seeing so many dancers put their hearts on their sleeves and have the guts to audition makes me very proud.
DS: What’s your least favorite part?
NL: You’re not going to believe me, but rejecting people. This is a professional competition, so we’re looking for the very best. Sometimes when we tell people they’re not good enough, you can see that their hearts are broken. Even with the bad ones, I want to say, “Keep dancing!”
DS: How was the turnout at auditions this year?
NL: Very strong. The turnout was equal to other seasons, but the standard of dance goes up each year. People get used to what we’re looking for, so they train themselves. The contemporary kids are doing a lot more hip hop. And, by the looks of it, the hip hop kids are even taking a few ballroom lessons.
DS: There have been rumors that "SYTYCD" is on its way out, but what do you see for the future of the show? Will this new format stick around for a while?
NL: Well I’m certainly hoping so. I would like to think that FOX will continue to think of us as part of its schedule, but that depends on viewers. At the end of the day, it’s a business. If we lose viewers, they’re going to drop the program. It isn’t up to me or to the format, it’s all about whether people watch. Just as a dancer accepts rejection if they’re not what a choreographer is looking for, this is something that I accept as a part of this business.
If it were up to us, "SYTYCD" would be here to stay. We can’t wait to find out who will be crowned America’s favorite dancers, and put them on the cover of our October issue! For the first episode of the season, tune in tonight at 8/7c on FOX.
Ah, that old "So You Think You Can Dance" theme song. Whenever I hear it I'm reminded that summer is here, and with that comes everyone's favorite dance competition: Welcome, to "So You Think You Can Dance!" [Insert adorable Cat Deeley British accent here.]
Last night's two-hour Season 9 premiere kicked off with auditions in NYC (with guest judge Tyce "Keith" Diorio joining Nigel and Mary on the panel) and Dallas (well hello there, Lil' C, you crazy non-English speaking krump king).
So how did our first round of dancers fare?
Um. I'll say it was a mediocre season kickoff. I wasn't overly impressed with the talent, but there were a few highlights. Let's break it down...
The Top 5 Moments From The "SYTYCD" Season 9 Premiere:
1. The most awwww-worthy audition came from 29-year-old Bree Hafen, the darling mother of Luke and Stella. Luke (sporting a killer mohawk) told Nigel he doesn't krump, "he shuffles." When Nigel let the two kids sit in his seat at the judges' table, I smiled. When Luke screamed, "I love you, Mommy!" as Bree began to dance, I was beaming. And then, when Nigel snuck Luke a ticket to Vegas and let him walk onstage to hand it to his mom, I totally melted. Oh, and then Stella performed. She nailed it. Brava, young Stella. Brava.
2. Cat Deeley's braids. Expect to see The Great Ms. Deeley making DS headlines weekly. We love her, and while she wasn't decked out in sequins for auditions, her behind-the-scenes braids (two different styles, one in NYC and another in Dallas) were way cute.
3. Daniel Baker, you handsome Australian devil. He tells us that he dances with San Francisco Ballet like it's no big deal. NBD. So Daniel moved to America to become a ballet dancer, and I guess he's the Alex Wong of this season: leaving a renowned ballet company to be on "SYTYCD." Daniel was the first dancer I truly enjoyed watching last night. That had nothing to do with the fact that he "lost his shirt backstage." It was just because he's talented and technical. I swear.
4. Tear-jerker Jarell Rochelle had to go and wrap the episode up with a sob story, didn't he? Normally these make me cringe, but Jarell was so genuine and so sweet, and he performed for his mom, who is semi-blind. Nigel let Mrs. Rochelle sit in his seat close to the stage so she could see her son perform, and the performance was indeed lovely.
5. Can we talk about Hampton Williams now? So he "invented a style" and it's called "Exorcist Style." Apparently while he dances, he can remove the bad from our bodies. Hampton was actually a pretty good dancer, and his feet were smooth, but what happened above the waist was downright scary. And yet, it brought Mary Murphy to tears. Did he exorcise her demons? I don't think Hampton will make it to the Top 20, because while he's good at what he does (whatever, exactly, that is), I'm not sure how "Exorcist Style" is going to translate into a Viennese Waltz, Paso Doble or jazz-hand-packed disco routine.
The "So You Think You Can What?!" Moment of the Night:
- There were two: First, there was "The New York Legend," Austin Freeman, doing "The Wiggle." I get that on shows like "American Idol," seeing the untalented people is amusing. People try to sing, we laugh with [at] them and everyone has a good time with it. But on "SYTYCD?" The bad dancing isn't funny, it's tragic. Show me the stars!
- Then there was Vaughan "Legend" Kipper, with his bad attitude and his declaration that he's "actually against auditioning for the show." Oh. OK, then. Cat Deeley saying, "I can pretty much guarantee you will be cut. Take your gerbil outfit and get out of here," was amazing.
Next week: We go to L.A. for "the most stunning auditions of the season." More importantly, Mitchell from "Modern Family" is the guest judge. It will be amazing.
Chime in: What did you think of last night's premiere? Loves? Loathes? Dancers you're dying to see in the Top 20?