So You Think You Can Dance

The show designed to find “America’s favourite dancer” first leaped onto our television screens in July of 2005. Last night it completed its 16th season, having aired every summer since 2005 and including one season in a fall time slot in 2009 before the FOX network returned it to its standard summer slot the next year. If the show struggled to attract top dancers to audition the first year, while still an unknown entity, it certainly hasn’t been a problem since. And as well as outstanding dancing, the show has introduced us to some wonderful choreographers who have produced many exceptional numbers.

Over the years, SYTYCD has varied its show format many times, including the year (season 12) when they featured a “street vs. stage” competition within the competition; The Next Generation (season 13) with competitors between the ages of 9 and 14; and variations in the number of finalists who make it to the live show (it’s been 10 for the last several years, down from 20 ) as well as who those finalists perform with and for how many weeks, i.e. all-stars or other contestants. Fans did not like this year’s format, with many weeks spent showing the ongoing Academy try-outs rather than actual competition. Nigel Lythgoe, co-creator of the show and head judge, stated on last night’s finale that he believed, given how short this year’s competitive season was, that they should drop the Academy and just do another top 20 show next year.

SYTYCD has helped to launch the careers of many dancers, including:

Travis Wall – runner-up in season 2, who now choreographs for the show and has won two prime-time Emmy Awards (to date) for his work. Travis also has a dance company called Shaping Sound, which has employed several fellow SYTYCD competitors over the years.

Danny Tidwell – Travis’s brother Danny was the runner-up in season 3 and has gone on to enjoy many opportunities, including performing as a soloist with the Norwegian National Ballet. Neil Haskell, who finished in 3rd place behind Danny, has done well on Broadway and is currently starring as King George in a touring production of Hamilton.

Twitch” – runner-up in season 4, is the DJ and sidekick on the Ellen DeGeneres Show. He is married to Allison Hoker, who made the top 8 in season 2 and went on to become one of the 12 professional dancers on Dancing with the Stars.

Melanie Moore – winner of season 8, had done very well onstage, including originating the role of Peter Pan in Finding Neverland on Broadway.

Many of the dancers have also returned to SYTYCD to perform as all-stars.

This year’s SYTYCD winner is b-boy Bailey Munoz. Bailey’s earnest, engaging personality and ability to perform any style at a high level (remember, the show stresses that you are voting for America’s favourite dancer, not necessarily the best technically) made him an obvious fan favourite for the last several episodes of the show.

FOX has not renewed SYTYCD for a 17th season yet, and will likely not make a decision about its future one way or another until early next year.  So, what do you think? Do you still enjoy it? If it returns, will you be watching?

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