When you hear "Nigel Lythgoe" and "Debbie Allen" in the same sentence, there's got to be some major dance tea brewing. In this case, it's super-exciting news: The two industry icons are joining forces to launch a new, L.A.–based dance festival that's basically going to bring dance heaven to earth.
It's been 14 years (!) since "So You Think You Can Dance" first graced our television screens. Over its 16 seasons, the prolific show has presented hundreds of routines. And many of them have been jump-off-your-couch-and-cheer great. "SYT" numbers regularly wow viewers, win Emmy Awards, and launch the careers of dancers and choreographers.
So in a way we weren't surprised that, when asked to pick their favorite "SYT" routines, producer Nigel Lythgoe and host Cat Deeley had the same initial response: It's too hard! We asked them to choose 5 to 10 pieces; Lythgoe couldn't narrow his list to fewer than 12.
In the end, their agonized-over choices included not only stone-cold classics, but also some unexpected picks. Here—in chronological order—are the "SYT" numbers Deeley and Lythgoe can't live without.
Back in 2010, "So You Think You Can Dance" producer Nigel Lythgoe established National Dance Day, an annual celebration of all things dance and a fundraiser for the dance education nonprofit then known as the Dizzy Feet Foundation. Since then, NDD has become a phenomenon. Each year, dancers and dance fans have learned an official NDD routine, showed up in droves for high-profile NDD events at the Kennedy Center and Segerstrom Center for the Arts, and hosted countless NDD parties of their own—always on the last Saturday in July.
But there are big changes afoot (see what we did there?) this year. The 2019 celebration will jump forward a few months on the calendar, to Saturday, September 21st. And Dizzy Feet has undergone an evolution of its own, with a new focus on the health benefits of dance, a new collaboration with the American Heart Association, and a new name: American Dance Movement.
We caught up with Lythgoe to talk about the reasons for all the ch-ch-ch-ch-changes.
Anybody else still breathless from last night's fabulous "So You Think You Can Dance" Season 15 finale? In addition to finding out who earned the title of America's Favorite Dancer (and the December cover of Dance Spirit!) we were treated to no fewer than 18 performances, including the judges' favorites from the season, the dancers' own throwback picks, and even a brand-new number for the Top 10. But one routine in particular from the jam-packed show had us literally jumping out of our seats.
After just three live shows and just as many brisk eliminations, we have our Season 15 Top 4! And we'll get to that. But first, here's what went down during the two hours that the Top 6—Hannahlei, Genessy, Jensen, Jay Jay, Darius, and Slavik—performed together last night.
We've officially reached the point in this competition where the finalists are just doing so. much. dancing. Last night, each contestant performed two duets, a solo, and a group routine. Even just typing that sentence made us tired. After all that choreography, the Top 8 became the Top 6. Here's what happened (minus recaps of the solos, because they were all delightful):
And then there were eight. Just as we were starting to get attached to the Top 10, those pesky "So You Think You Can Dance" rules came into play and forced us (er, the judges) to slash two of the finalists from the competition. How rude! (But, Nigel announced ever-so-proudly, the entire Top 10 will be going on tour together once the season wraps.) Before the eliminations, each couple performed twice—and never in any dancer's own style. "So anything could happen," explained Cat Deeley, clad in a splashy, sequined floral minidress and a massive hair bow. And oh boy, a LOT of things did.
At the start of last night's episode, we had a Top 20—the number we thought was the goal heading into the live shows. But as we found out last week, this season, the judges actually want a Top 10. So five girls and five guys still had to go.
And last night, we started with the girls. Each of the Top 10 ladies was paired with an All Star from a past season (Lex is back! YAY!) for a duet outside their preferred style. How'd they all fare? Let's break it down.
At the start of last night's episode of "So You Think You Can Dance," 41 dancers remained. An hour later, we had a Top 20. And then there was a BIG FAT TWIST. (We'll get to that.)
The 41 still-standing Academy dancers showed up at the Dolby Theater in L.A. ready to tackle three rounds: contemporary choreography with seven-time Emmy nominee and one-time "SYTYCD" contestant Travis Wall; an "epic group routine" with jazz choreographer and La La Land she-ro Mandy Moore; and a last-chance solo showdown. Here's what happened.
After four speedy rounds of solo auditions, we've arrived at The Academy!
If you've been living in "So You Think You Can Dance" Land for a long time (shout-out to everyone who was alive and watching back when Nick Lazzarini won Season 1 in 2005), The Academy is the new Vegas Week, when the narrowed-down group of dancers who impressed the judges in NYC and L.A. get thrown to the wolves. (This year, as we found out in last night's ep, Academy sessions happened at the Dolby Theater in L.A.) They're put through grueling choreography rounds, where they're tasked with picking up choreo super fast, then performing it, then hoping not to get cut, and then moving onto the next style—learn, rehearse, repeat.
This week, the choreographers on deck were husband-and-wife dream team Tabitha and Napoleon D'umo and ballroom wizard Jean-Marc Généreux. But first, we kicked things off with a prelim in which the 70 Academy dancers did solos for Nigel, Mary, and Vanessa. Those performances determined whether or not they'd move on to the choreography rounds. And the judges weren't playing—Nigel said he was ready to "break a few hearts."
So, how'd the first Academy episode play out?
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We're back—back in the New York groove!
It's the last round of auditions before Nigel, Mary, Vanessa, and tWitch send our "So You Think You Can Dance" Season 15 hopefuls off to The Academy. Who might we see there (location still undisclosed)? Here's a rundown of last night's highlights.
How do you top Jay Jackson? We weren't sure it was possible—until it happened.
Last night, "So You Think You Can Dance" gave us part two of its L.A. audition journey. Along the way, we smiled, laughed, and definitely cried. We also learned that there won't be choreography rounds this year. (Sad! Who doesn't love it when Tabitha, Napoleon, Sonya, and Travis come in and whip everyone into shape?) So the stakes were even higher, because the dancers had only one chance to impress Nigel, Mary, Vanessa and tWitch. If the judges were feeling them, they went straight through to The Academy, exact location still undisclosed.
Here are last night's highlights.
"So You Think You Can Dance" kicked off its 15th season last night with auditions in L.A. (and a killer, developpé-filled opening montage set to "This Is Me" from The Greatest Showman). Nigel, Mary, Vanessa (looking sparklier and chicer than ever), and Cat were all on hand—plus tWitch was in the house to help out with auditions.
We caught up with Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy, Vanessa Hudgens, and special guest tWitch at "So You Think You Can Dance" auditions in NYC. The panel of dance pros discussed reuniting for the 15th season, what their favorite part of judging is, and their advice for "SYTYCD" hopefuls.
Oh what a night. We knew this was coming. We knew there would be a double elimination this week so we could move forward with a Top 4. But ugh, it still hurt. Yeah yeah, they'll all be on the tour, but saying goodbye now, when all these dancers are so good and so deserving—it's just a big ol' bummer. But before we get to the elimination x 2, here's how the night played out.
Actually, one more thing: Cat Deeley noted right from the start that we'd be getting a Top 4 based on last week's votes with no help from the judges. So going into the live performance, the Top 4 had already been decided! But still, the Top 6 dancers had to knock out an opening number, a solo, an All-Star-paired duet, and a routine with a fellow contestant. It felt a little torturous, no? None of it mattered! Is all fair in love and reality TV dance competitions? Not really, tbh. Anyway...