Including Travis Wall, obviously! (Adam Rose/FOX)

8 Choreographers Who Started As "SYTYCD" Contestants

"So You Think You Can Dance" is often a launching pad for a dancer's career. While many "SYT" alums go on to perform for iconic artists or join high-profile companies, some also become choreographers—and a few even come full-circle, making dances for the show where it all began. Here are 8 talented choreographers who got their start as "SYTYCD" hopefuls.


Benji Schwimmer

After winning the second season of "SYTYCD," Benji Schwimmer returned to choreograph snazzy West Coast swing routines for the show several times. He's also made work for Paula Abdul, LeAnn Rimes, and, yes, our favorite figure skater, Adam Rippon—the definition of #goals.

Anya Garnis and Pasha Kovalev

After competing on Season 3, Anya Garnis and Pasha Kovalev—now husband and wife, aww!—went on to choreograph for several seasons of the show, and have appeared as All Stars, too. The pair has also worked on "Strictly Come Dancing," and Kovalev has choreographed two major ballroom shows, Life Through Dance and It's All About You, which have toured to dozens of cities.

Ellenore Scott

Ellenore Scott has gone from "SYTYCD" finalist to Broadway baby. Since competing in Season 6, she's gone on to become the artistic director of her own company, ELSCO Dance, and is the associate choreographer for two upcoming musicals: King Kong and Head Over Heels. She also teaches contemporary jazz at Broadway Dance Center—and based on the videos she posts on her 'gram, her classes are a blast.

Billy Bell

Speaking of Broadway Dance Center—Billy Bell, from Seasons 6 and 7 of "SYTYCD," also started teaching dance there after finishing his run on the show. Bell is a distinguished choreographer now: He's founded two ensembles of his own, Dreyfoos Dance Ensemble (created in 2007) and Billy Bellʼs Lunge Dance Collective (2010), and worked with Cherice Barton, Westside Dance Project, DeMa Dance, and more.

Kate Harpootlian

As anyone who's seen our May/June issue knows, we fell in LOVE with Kate Harpootlian during Season 12. Since competing on the show, her career's brought her credits as a dancer in companies like Shaping Sound, and as a choreographer for dancers all over the country. In 2016, she was runner-up at the Capezio ACE Awards for choreography.

Mark Kanemura

Mark Kanemura is the real deal, guys. After winning over our hearts on Season 4, he's not only danced for Lady Gaga, but also returned to choreograph for "SYTYCD" many times. (His number to RuPaul's "Call Me Mother" last season is already the stuff of legend.) Oh, and if you don't follow him on Instagram, you totally should, because his sparkle-and-rainbow–filled posts will put a smile on your face every single day.

Travis Wall

Of course, this list wouldn't be complete without the man himself, Travis Wall. After competing on Season 2, he's choreographed for the best of the best, and has won Emmy Awards for his work on "SYTYCD." It's crazy to think that Wall was cut the first time he auditioned for the show. What would the dance world even be like today without him?!

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Photo by Brooke Fera

Enter the World of the Knicks City Dancers with 2 of Their Newest Rookies

Auditions rarely fail to deliver on suspense. But this? This was the nail-biter to end all nail-biters. Hayoung Roh and Chelsea McCloskey, both professional dancers based in NYC, had made it through what felt like endless rounds of cuts, both on Zoom and in person. Out of the nearly 500 dancers (from 30 states and nine countries) who'd answered the Knicks City Dancers' open call for video submissions, just 20 remained—McCloskey and Roh among them. "We were separated into six holding rooms, where we kept trying to figure out the math," Roh recalls. "How many girls are there in total? Who was called back?"

Finally, the women returned to the audition room to dance one last time—or so they were told. Instead, KCD head coach Alyssa Quezada dropped her bombshell: All 20 women had made the final cut. They would be 2021–22 Knicks City Dancers: the latest and greatest edition of one of the most prestigious NBA dance teams. "It was the biggest celebration and the coolest moment of my dance career so far," says McCloskey now. And that was just the oh-so-perfectly-dramatic beginning.

Chelsea McCloskey stands on her left leg while kicking her right leg up with her arms crossed, a smile on her face. She is auditioning for KCD. Chelsea McCloskey Photo by Tess Mayer


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