By Kristyn Burtt
So You Think You Can Dance is officially back and auditions are underway to find the perfect cast on the journey to becoming “America’s Favorite Dancer.” After a three-year absence, viewers can expect quite a few changes ahead for the 17th season, so executive producer Jeff Thacker and SYTYCD alum — and now, associate producer — Robert Roldan gave Inside Dance the exclusive scoop.
Thacker started right off by sharing that So You Think You Can Dance will “have a whole new look” with “a brand-new set from scratch that it is going to be bigger and more spectacular” than audiences have ever seen. He remarked, “It’s not going to infringe on what we’ve got, but it’s going to enhance what we’ve got. It’s going to look fabulous. It’s bigger than we’ve ever had before.”
If that wasn’t enough to get fans excited by the return of the beloved dance show, FOX is giving the series more weeks than previously seen in the last few seasons. “There are eight studio shows and we’re going to see four audition shows, so this is a summer season of 12 weeks of So You Think You Can Dance.” While the premiere date has yet to be announced, Twitter users already saw Nigel Lythgoe reveal that he would not be a part of the upcoming season on the judges’ panel, tweeting, “I am so thrilled that America’s young aspiring dance talent will get to work with some of our greatest creative choreographers. On a personally sad note, I have not been asked to be on the judging panel this season. I don’t know who will be saying ‘Cue Music’, but I wish them well.”
Although Lythgoe remains on as an executive producer, Thacker is promising “a whole new panel” of three judges. When asked if they are dance experts embedded in the community, he added, “The panel is definitely dance-related as in they may have trained, they may have performed, they may have danced, or they may have been in other shows. So yes, I think that is very important that we do have that integrity for the show.”
At the Los Angeles Producers’ Auditions, which was the second stage of getting onto the show after the initial video round, Roldan explained that “the 18 and 19-year-olds here are insane and we’re seeing a lot of untrained hip-hop dancers that are really, really hungry to be a part of the show, which is exciting.” He’s going to continue in his mentorship role with the contestants because he knows how challenging it can be as a veteran from the seventh season.
“Being behind the camera now, I can see when [a mental block] starts to happen, I’ve been in their shoes, and you can get so clouded by being a part of a television show where you think you have to be something that you’re not,” he shared. “That’s not it at all — you’re there for a reason, we picked you for a reason.”
Roldan also hinted that he would be looking to choreograph at some point during the season, in addition to his producer role. Fans should expect other familiar choreographers to return, but with the “polished and sparkling refresh” of Season 17, Thacker is wanting to introduce the audience to new names as well. “I’ve been working with new choreographers [on CBS’s new dance competition show, Come Dance with Me] since the show’s been off and I definitely want to bring them over,” he said. “But again, as with our dancers, they have to be the right fit for So You Think You Can Dance — it’s not just about being a choreographer.”
And that leaves us with one major question about host Cat Deeley since she’s been rather silent about the show’s return. Thacker danced around the answer, teasing, “I think you will find a familiar face back in the middle of our stage. Put it this way, a very gorgeous looking, familiar face will back on the stage… who that will be is anybody’s guess.”
SYTYCD Photography by Adam Rose
Photo of Jeff Thacker by Guillermo Proano
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