Laurieann Gibson and D-Trix Spill the Tea About Being the Newest “SYTYCD” Judges

(From left) Mary Murphy, Dominic "D-Trix" Sandoval, Laurieann Gibson, and Nigel Lythgoe at the judges' table (Adam Rose/FOX)

"So You Think You Can Dance," the show that has inspired, moved, and motivated us for 15 (!) seasons, is officially back! And we're especially excited for Season 16, because two of our favorite artists are joining the judging panel: Dominic "D-Trix" Sandoval and Laurieann Gibson.

D-Trix has had a fantastic career in the industry since making it to the top 8 on "SYTYCD" Season 3; Gibson is best known for working with huge stars like Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj, Britney Spears and Katy Perry. (The two of them will sit alongside longtime judges Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy.)

We caught up with D-Trix and Gibson before the Season 16 premiere to talk all things "SYTYCD."

How does it feel to be on the panel?

D-Trix: Being on the other side of the competition is a lot easier physically! I'm reliving a lot of the moments that the dancers are going through. It's been really exciting to be able to give a voice to the dancers' perspective. If I were competing again, I'd want to hear tips from someone who's been through it.

Gibson: It's been a dream come true to be able to inspire the next generation of dancers!

What impact do you think the show has had on the dance community over its 16 seasons?

Gibson: When I was a young dancer, we could only dream of an opportunity like this, which gives you access to the professional dance world and lets America see your ability very early in your career. If I'd had that opportunity when I was coming up, I'd probably be dancing on the moon by now!

D-Trix: That's what is amazing about the show. "SYTYCD" rooted my entire career.

Being a judge on "SYTYCD" is a big responsibility. Why did you want to take it on?

Gibson: To educate and inspire. I was a dancer and I am still a dancer. As a choreographer and creative director, I understand the pressure that these kids are under. I speak the language of choreography. It seemed like a great time for my passion to find a new home.

What's most challenging about being a judge?

D-Trix: It hurts to send someone home. I've cried on multiple occasions just during auditions. It's so sad to let someone go, because this is their whole life in one solo.

Gibson: Yes, the hardest part is seeing the kids go. But there can only be one winner!

What are you looking for from the contestants this season?

D-Trix: I think it's about finding the perfect balance of technique and emotion—you can give yourself to the world while maintaining that amazing technical ability. I also tell the dancers all the time that I want them to turn off their minds. People who think too much tend to go home early, because they're thinking about what the show and the judges want from them, instead of what they want to do. Looking at social network platforms and reading comments is so unnecessary. If you're able to turn off your brain and just enjoy yourself, you're probably going to have a better outcome at the end of the day. The show is going to be challenging, but try to find the beauty in the challenges.

Dance on TV
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)

Congratulations to Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers on their profile pages, and then vote for your favorite below. You can vote once a day now through July 15.

We also want you to get social! We'll be factoring social media likes and shares into our final tallies. Be sure to show your favorite finalist some love on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, sharing their profile pages and using the hashtag #DanceSpiritCMS.

Cover Model Search
Liz Imperio teaching at Hollywood Vibe, Courtesy of Hollywood Vibe

It's an increasingly common scenario: A talented dancer wins big at a competition, is offered an assistantship with a famous faculty member, and ends up leaving her hometown studio to travel with a convention. Convention-hopping has obvious benefits. Every event generates new content for dancers to post on social media, gives them a better shot at ending up on their favorite choreographers' accounts, lets them learn from the best of the best, and helps them make valuable connections. "Traveling is a great way for dancers to gain admirers around the country," says Jen Jarnot, owner of Artistic Fusion Dance Academy in Thornton, CO. "That's something every dancer craves." So it's no surprise that weekend FOMO has been blazing through studios like wildfire.

But is this jet-setter lifestyle really the most effective road to take? Can weekends of dancing with top talent truly replace the bread and butter of daily work at your home studio? The answer, according to most industry experts, is no. We asked five pros to explain why.

Keep Reading Show less

WilldaBeast and…a car? They may be unusual duet partners, but this new ad proves they're a pretty sweet match.

Keep Reading Show less
Dance Videos



Get Dance Spirit in your inbox