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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To get you started on your TikTok journey, Dance Spirit rounded up seven of the best dances for you to learn. And when you're ready to share the fruits of your TikTok labors, be sure to tag us @dancespiritmagazine—we'll repost some of our faves!

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A Letter from the Editor in Chief

Hi, dance friends. It is a strange time to be a person in the world, and an especially strange time to be a dancer. As the dance community faces the coronavirus crisis, a lot of you are coping with closed studios, canceled performances and competitions, and a general sense of anxiety about how your world will look going forward.

Yes, dancers are super resilient, and there's been a lot of inspiring community-building happening. #LivingRoomDances and Instagram dance parties and virtual ballet classes with the pros are wonderful. Dance can, and should, be a bright spot in the darkness. But that weird, empty feeling you have? It might be grief. The loss of the certainty of daily class, the loss of the promise of that big end-of-year performance—that's real. The dance studio has always been a safe place; it's especially hard not to have that outlet now, when you need it most.

We're here for you. We—and our friends at Dance Magazine, Pointe, Dance Teacher, The Dance Edit, and Dance Business Weekly—are doing our best to document the hurdles facing the dance industry, and to advocate for dancers in need. We're developing more online content that will help you maintain and improve your technique while you're at home, and process the mental and emotional fallout of all this upheaval. (You can keep up with the latest stories here.) And we're still making our print magazine. We have issues planned and shot, full of great dance stories and beautiful photos. We're not going anywhere.

We want to hear from you. Talk to us. Or dance to us. Or both. We won't stop moving, and you shouldn't, either.

Margaret

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