Judges’ Stage Set For SYTYCD Premiere!
By Kristyn Burtt
With the return of So You Think You Can Dance after three years, viewers are about to see some changes at the judges’ table. Season 16 judges Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy, Dominic “D-Trix” Sandoval, and Laurieann Gibson have been replaced with Stephen “tWitch” Boss, JoJo Siwa and Glee’s Matthew Morrison, who are bringing their expertise to the show. There’s no doubt Lythgoe’s steady presence and Murphy’s “Hot Tamale Train” will be missed, but the new set of judges are ready to fill some big shoes!
For tWitch, it’s a homecoming since he’s fulfilled almost every role on the show: contestant, All-Star, mentor, choreographer and judge. After serving as a judge on Season 15, he’s approaching his return the same way because he’s ”stood on that stage before.” He also noticed something unique from the dancers auditioning this year — it’s “that hunger to be back on this stage” after a global pandemic. “It affected people in many different ways, there are some people that really thrived in it, and there are some people who did not thrive in it,” he explained. “So I think that we’re going to be able to tell stories now and talk about issues that have come up to the surface over the past couple of years — I think that’s going to be really special too.”
Siwa comes in as the youngest judge at 18 years of age (she turns 19 on May 19), but she thinks her age is her secret weapon, not an obstacle. “I mean, the kids, they’re my age, but I know what they’re going through, and I feel like I can really understand and give them what they want to hear,” she revealed. “You know, they want honesty.” What amazes her the most is how many Dancing With the Stars pros have come through the So You Think You Can Dance pipeline. After competing on the 30th season with partner Jenna Johnson, Siwa has drawn on their wisdom to get a feel for the show. “So many people have been through the So You Think doors. I mean, Jenna, Witney [Carson], Lindsay [Arnold], Artem [Chigvintsev] was on season one, Ezra [Sosa], Ezra’s sister [Stephani Sosa]…,” she excitedly said. “It’s insane, the amount of people that have gone through the show and that it shines such a light on dancers is amazing.”
The real wildcard addition to the show was Morrison, who does have experience with judging dance from his time on the U.K.’s The Greatest Dancer — and of course, he’s a seasoned Broadway actor. When Inside Dance spoke to him at the Judges’ Round in April, he was frank about how he was “feeling so sensitive” about giving feedback to the dancers. “These people’s fate is in my hands, and it’s not a good feeling sometimes to say no to people, but we try to do it with encouragement and inspiring them to never lose their love of dance, whether their journey ends today or not,” Morrison added.
He’s promising that the three judges have lots of chemistry, though. “tWitch is a seasoned pro, especially on the show, he’s kind of our leader on the show,” he said. “He’s the one who holds us together, and JoJo is a breath of fresh air.” Of course, there’s also one person who leads the entire ship and guides viewers and contestants through a journey each season: Cat Deeley.
She’s back for her 16th season and feeling more grateful than ever because she thought So You Think You Can Dance was done for good after its pandemic hiatus. “It feels like the same old in the best way, but it also does feel new and exciting,” Deeley noted. “It feels like you can never take for granted what you have until it gets taken away.”
So You Think You Can Dance premieres on Wednesday, May 18 at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT.
Photos: Mike Yarish/FOX
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