So You Think You Can Dance (United States)

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So You Think You Can Dance
So You Think You Can Dance.svg
Created by
Developed by Simon Fuller
Directed by
Presented by
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 12
No. of episodes 211
Executive producer(s)
  • Barry Adelman
  • Simon Fuller
  • Nigel Lythgoe
  • Allen Shapiro (2005–06)
Production company(s)
Original network Fox
Picture format
Original release July 20, 2005 (2005-07-20) – present
External links

So You Think You Can Dance is an American televised dance competition show that airs on Fox in the United States and is the flagship series of the international So You Think You Can Dance television franchise.

The series premiered on July 20, 2005 with over ten million viewers and ended the summer season as the top-rated show on television. SYTYCD was created by American Idol producers Simon Fuller and Nigel Lythgoe and is produced by 19 Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions. The first season was hosted by current American news personality Lauren Sánchez. Since the second season, it has been hosted by former British children's television personality and one-time game show emcee Cat Deeley. During its second season, the program remained the No. 1 rated summer show (adults aged 18–49) but it has declined in ratings since.

The show features a tiered format wherein dancers from a variety of styles enter open auditions held in a number of major U.S. cities to showcase their unique styles and talents and, if allowed to move forward, then are put through additional rounds of auditions to test their ability to adapt to different styles. At the end of this process, a small number of dancers are chosen as finalists. These dancers move on to the competition's main phase, where they perform solo, duet, and group dance numbers in a variety of styles. They compete for the votes of the broadcast viewing audience which, combined with the input of a panel of judges, determines which dancers advance to the next stage from week to week. The number of finalists has varied as determined by a season's format, but has typically been 20 contestants.

The show features a broad variety of American and international dance styles including classical, contemporary, ballroom, hip-hop, street, club, jazz, and musical theatre styles, amongst others, with many subgenres within these categories represented. Competitors attempt to master these styles—which are generally, but not always, assigned by a luck-of-the-draw system—to survive successive weeks of elimination. The eventual champion wins a cash prize (typically $250,000) and the title of "America's Favorite Dancer". In twelve seasons, the winners have been Nick Lazzarini, Benjamin "Benji" Schwimmer, Sabra Johnson, Joshua Allen, Jeanine Mason, Russell Ferguson, Lauren Froderman, Melanie Moore, Eliana Girard, Chehon Wespi-Tschopp, Amy Yakima, Du-Shaunt "Fik-Shun" Stegall, Ricky Ubeda, and Gaby Diaz. Girard and Wespi-Tschopp shared the title as dual-winners for the ninth season, and Yakima and Stegall as the winners of the tenth. The show has won seven Emmy Awards for Outstanding Choreography and a total of nine Emmys altogether.

Licensed variations of the show, produced for broadcast markets in other nations, began airing in August 2005 and to date 25 localized adaptations of So You Think You Can Dance have been produced representing as many countries.

Show format[edit]

A typical season of So You Think You Can Dance is divided between a selection process, during which expert judges select competitors from a wide pool of applicant dancers, and a competition phase, during which these 'finalists' (more typically referred to as the 'Top 20') compete for votes from home viewers. Though it is produced over the course of months, the selection phase is highly edited and usually constitutes only the first 2–4 weeks of aired episodes, with the competition episodes forming the remaining 8–9 weeks of the season.

Open auditions[edit]

The open auditions, the first stage in determining a seasons finalists, take place in 5–6 major U.S. cities each season and are typically open to anyone aged 18–30 at the time of their audition. The cities where auditions are held change from season to season but some, such as Los Angeles and New York, have featured in most seasons. During this stage, dancers perform a brief routine (typically a solo, but duet and group routines are allowed as well) before a panel of dance experts, usually headed by series creator and executive producer Nigel Lythgoe. This panel then decides on-the-spot whether the dancer demonstrated enough ability and performance value to proceed further. If the dancer exhibited exceptional ability in their performance, judges award a "ticket to Vegas," moving them instantly one step forward in the competition. Alternatively, if judges are on the fence about the dancer, they will ask the contestant to wait until the end of that day's auditions to participate in a short test of their ability to pick up professional choreography.


The second stage of the selection process, referred to as "the callbacks" (in seasons 2-10 and 12, the round was held in the city of Las Vegas and known as "Vegas Week"), is a several-day-long process in which the remaining hopefuls are tested for overall well-rounded dance ability, stamina, and their ability to perform under pressure. The dancers are put through a battery of rounds that test their ability to pick up various dance styles (typically some of the more well-represented genres that are later prominent in the competition phase, such as hip-hop, jazz, ballroom and contemporary). Additionally they may be asked to perform further solos in styles of their choosing and, since season 2, participate in a group choreography round in which small teams of contestants must display their musicality and ability to communicate professionally by choreographing a performance to a randomly selected piece of music — this challenge is notable as being the only time competitors are asked to choreograph themselves, aside from solos. The Callbacks are often collectively portrayed as one of the most exhausting and stressful stages of the competition; each successive round sees cuts in which a significant portion of the remaining dancers are eliminated from competition and dancers are given a limited amount of time to adapt to styles they are sometimes wholly unfamiliar with while being physically taxed by the rapid progression of rounds and a limited amount of rest. At the end of this process, usually less than 40 competitors remain in a pool that final contestants are chosen from. Most seasons have featured 20 top finalists for the competition portion of the show, but Season One was represented by a Top 16 and Season Seven saw a Top 11.

Finalist selection and showcase episode[edit]

Following Vegas Week—which has, through video vignettes, made many of the dancers increasingly familiar to the audience as it observes their attempts to cope with the challenges of the week—the judge's panel selects their finalists from the remaining dancers, breaking the good or bad news to each dancer. Since Season six, the series has also featured a showcase episode that takes place immediately before the main competition. In this showcase, dancers compete for the first time on the main SYTYCD stage in Los Angeles before a live audience, dancing duet or group routines, but only in their own styles. In seasons eight through ten, the finalist announcement episode and the dancer's showcase were combined into one episode, with groups of dancers taking to the stage for the first time immediately after they are revealed. In seasons six through nine, no dancers were in danger of elimination at this point and the first round of viewer voting and judge eliminations occurred the following week; in the slightly truncated format of the most recent seasons of ten and eleven, the dancer showcase is the first episode to be accompanied by viewer voting and a resulting elimination.

Top 20 to Top 10[edit]

Following the finalist selection process, the show transitions into its regular competition phase, which lasts the rest of the season. The competition stage is divided into 8 weeks, with two contestants eliminated per week (or in the case of season 7, one contestant). Dancers are paired-up — in some seasons at random, and in others by judges — into male-female couples that will stay paired for half of the remaining competition if neither is eliminated. These couples perform 1–2 duets per week in randomly selected styles. These duets, as with all non-solo performances at this stage in the competition, are choreographed by professional choreographers, who are often noteworthy names in their own genres or American dance culture at large. Prior to most duet performances, a video packet of clips of the couple preparing to perform the routine is shown; these packets are intended not only to demonstrate the couple's efforts to master the routine, but also to give glimpses of the personalities of the dancers as well as to allow the choreographer to give insight as to the thematic, narrative, and artistic intentions of the piece. Following each duet performance, the week's panel of judges gives critical feedback, often emphasizing the two key areas of technique and performance value. These duets and their accompanying video packets and critiques typically take up the majority of a competition show but may be supplemented by solos or group numbers during the later portion of the season. Each competition show ends with a quick recap of the night's routines accompanied by on-screen reminders of the telephone numbers by which at-home viewers can vote for the contestant(s) of their choosing and it is at this point that those lines open to receive votes. As of Season 8, voting can also be performed online. Performance shows typically last two hours, commercials included.

In seasons 2-8 the show's weekly format was split between two episodes, a performance episode, as described above, and a results show which reveals the outcome of the at-home-viewer voting. Results shows typically aired on the night immediately following that of the performance show of the same week and usually opened with a group routine from the remaining contestants. The main purpose of this show was to determine which of the dancers are eliminated that week, but these episodes generally also featured guest dance performances or guest musical acts, and sometimes video packets that provide insight on the dancers and their journey on the show; Lythgoe has commented that the group routines and occasional guest performances will be included in the singular weekly episodes of season 9. Regardless of how many shows air per week for a given season, a bottom three couples (those that garnered the fewest votes from viewers) are typically revealed weekly at this stage in the competition. Each of these six dancers are then in danger of elimination and must perform a solo for the judges as their last effort to impress and stay in the competition. The judges then retire briefly (typically during the night's headlining musical guest performance) to determine which man and woman (which are not necessarily from the same couple) will leave the competition. The eliminated dancers are then announced and given a brief send-off via a video montage. If the dancers who were eliminated were not from the same couple then the two remaining members form a new couple for the following week's performances. On two occasions, the judges, unwilling to send any of the bottom dancers home on the merits of their performances that week, have abstained from making an elimination and instead allowed all competitors to proceed to the next week, which would be followed by an elimination of the double the usual number of competitors. Results shows have varied in length from one to two hours, commercials included. In season one there was no results show and the dancers' eliminations were pre-recorded the week they occurred and then broadcast at the beginning of the next week's episode. Season nine has marked a return to the one-episode-per-week format but differs in that contestants eliminations will be revealed at the end of an episode, when voting from the previous week is revealed, but only after the dancers have performed the new week's routines and been given another chance to impress the judges.

Top 10 to Finale[edit]

Around the time that the show enters its 'Top Ten' competitor phase, there are typically several format changes that take place. Couples are split up and new pairings are formed for each of the remaining weeks (though some couples may be paired up more than once). Additionally, voting is usually then cast for individual dancers rather than couples (in season nine, dancers will be voted for on an individual basis from the start). Lastly, the judges often give up their power to save dancers at this point, and eliminations are determined exclusively by viewer votes, with judges serving in only an advisory capacity - in seasons 2-6, a results show was still shown the following night to reveal the results of the vote, though it featured a bottom four dancers as opposed to a bottom three couples once the Top 10 stage was reached. Each season undergoes one final format shake-up in its last week, which typically takes place when the show reaches a Top 4 (though season six saw a Top 6 finale and season seven a Top 3). In the final performance show, the remaining dancers typically each dance duets with all of their remaining fellow finalists as well as perform solos and participate in group numbers. The following night's season finale episode is often the most elaborately produced show of a season and features the last performances of the competitors, encore performances of many of the season's most acclaimed routines, guest dancers (including returning past season competitors and cast-members from other international versions of the franchise), musical performances and multiple video packets chronicling the course of the season's events, all culminating in the announcement of the winner of the competition, as decided by the previous night's vote. In the first 8 seasons, a singular winner was announced, of which there have been four women and four men over the course of the series; since season 9, two winners have been crowned, one man and one woman. In season 11, they went back to announcing a singular winner. Following the closure of the season, the Top Ten dancers often go on tour for several months, performing hit routines from the season amongst other performances.


Picture of Nigel Lythgoe
Nigel Lythgoe is co-creator of the So You Think You Can Dance franchise, and has been executive producer and permanent member of the judge's panel of the U.S. and U.K. productions for their entire runs.

While the above describes the most likely format for a given season, there have been notable variations in how various seasons have been arranged. While most seasons have seen 20 top finalists, season 1, being slightly shorter in length than all following seasons, saw only a Top 16, and its final performance show had an improvisational segment that was never again seen on the show. Aired in the fall (as opposed to the summer as with most other seasons), Season Six saw some cuts to its average air time per episode and ended at a Top Six rather than a Top Four. Season Seven featured a number of different format tweaks, several of which have not been featured in any other season; rather than featuring a Top 20 with two eliminations per week, Season seven had a Top 11 and sent home only one dancer per week, ending with a Top 3 finale. Season Seven also saw the introduction of 'All-Stars', former contestants who return in a non-competitive role to pair with new competitors for some of their routines. Seasons Eight and Nine saw a return to the Top 20 format but also continued to use All-Stars after the competition reached the Top Ten phase.[1]


The judging panel has also varied considerably (in terms of both size and composition) over the run of the series. Typically a season has 2–3 permanent judges with an additional 1–2 guest judges for most episodes, with the panel ballooning up to six to nine members for Vegas Week and the finale. Executive producer Nigel Lythgoe is the only permanent judge on the panel for all eleven seasons. Other permanent judges have included ballroom specialist Mary Murphy, film director and choreographer Adam Shankman and contemporary choreographer Mia Michaels. Guest judge positions are typically filled by choreographers who work regularly on the show—though choreographers will never develop routines for an episode on which they judge—who in rare cases may also be former contestants themselves, and by iconic names from the entertainment industry. Guest judges for the show have included: Debbie Allen, Christina Applegate, Robin Antin, Toni Basil, Cicely Bradley, Kristin Chenoweth, Alex Da Silva, Ellen DeGeneres, Tyce Diorio, Joey Dowling, Napoleon and Tabitha D'umo, Carmen Electra, Brian Friedman, Jean-Marc Généreux, Jason Gilkison, Neil Patrick Harris, Hi-Hat, Katie Holmes, Dan Karaty, Lady Gaga, Carly Rae Jepsen, Lil' C, Rob Marshall, Mandy Moore, Megan Mullally, Kenny Ortega, Toni Redpath, Debbie Reynolds, Wade Robson, Doriana Sanchez, Shane Sparks, Sonya Tayeh, Olisa Thompson, Stacey Tookey, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and Travis Wall. There has been some variation in how long into a season the judges have retained their ability to make the ultimate decision on who is eliminated from week to week; in earlier seasons this ability was typically lost around week five of the competitive phase of the show, but in seasons seven through nine the judges have retained this ability until relatively late in the competition, at week seven. On January 22, 2015, following the departure of Murphy, Fox announced their plans to enlist former American Idol judge Paula Adbul and singer Jason Derulo to judge the series' twelfth season.[2]

Overview of format and presentation by season[edit]

Season Dates Host Permanent
Separate results show? Dancer showcase episode?† Number of finalists in first live show Number of contestants eliminated per week Number of contestants remaining in finale Number of winners All-Stars included in format? Point at which judge eliminations end Voting for individual dancers starting with
1 Summer 2005
Lauren Sánchez Nigel Lythgoe No No 16 2 4 1 No Top 8 Top 8
2 Summer 2006
Cat Deeley Yes No 20 2 4 1 No Top 10 Top 10
3 Summer 2007
Nigel Lythgoe
Mary Murphy
Yes No 20 2 4 1 No Top 10 Top 10
4 Summer 2008
Yes No 20 2 4 1 No Top 10 Top 10
5 Summer 2009
Yes No 20 2 4 1 No Top 10 Top 10
6 Fall 2009
Nigel Lythgoe
Mary Murphy
Adam Shankman
Yes Yes 20 2 6 1 No Top 10 Top 10
7 Summer 2010
Nigel Lythgoe
Adam Shankman
Mia Michaels
Yes Yes 11 1* 3 1 Yes Top 4 Top 11
8 Summer 2011
Nigel Lythgoe
Mary Murphy
Yes Yes‡ 20 2* 4 1 Yes Top 6 Top 10
9 Summer 2012
No Yes‡ 20 2* 4 2 Yes Top 6 Top 20
10 Summer 2013
No Yes‡ 20 2 4 2 Yes Top 6 Top 20
11 Summer 2014
No Yes 20 2 4 1 Yes Top 10 Top 20
12 Summer 2015
Nigel Lythgoe
Paula Abdul
Jason Derulo
No Yes 20 2⁂ 4 1 Yes Top 14 Top 20

† From its inception in season 6 and through season 10, the dancer showcase episode represented a non-competitive round with no viewer voting or subsequent eliminations, followed the next week by the first competitive round. In season 11 it was the first episode of the season upon which viewers voted.

‡ For seasons 8-10, the dancer showcase episode was combined with the Top 20 reveal episode, with groups of the dancers performing immediately after being revealed as finalists.

* In both seasons 7 and 8, the judges decided not to eliminate any dancers on the occasion of one results show; in both cases this event was followed by the elimination of double the normal amount of contestants the following week. Similarly, for format reasons, season 9 featured two shows with double eliminations, with four dancers eliminated instead of two for each of these shows.

⁂ Unlike all previous seasons, season 12 featured the elimination of one "street" dancer and one "stage" dancer each week, as opposed to one female and one male contestant (as in all previous seasons which eliminated two dancers per week).

Dance styles and choreographers[edit]

Over the course of its eleven seasons, So You Think You Can Dance has featured dozens of distinct dance styles in its choreographed routines. Most of these styles fall into four categories that are regularly showcased and can be found in almost every performance episode: western contemporary/classical styles, ballroom styles, hip-hop/street styles, and Jazz and its related styles. Various other forms of dance that do not especially fall into these broad categories are seen as well, but not as regularly. The following styles have all been seen in a choreographed duet or group routine; styles featured only in auditions or solos are not listed.

Classical styles[edit]

Routines from the classically derived style of contemporary dance are the most common dances seen on the show, being seen in every performance episode of the series (and typically at least twice per episode). While contemporary, lyrical, and modern dance are typically considered three separate (if overlapping) styles, the practice on So You Think You Can Dance has been to refer to all routines in this area as "contemporary", except in the first season where the label "lyrical" was used for the same purpose. Ballet routines occur much more rarely, at a rate of one or two per season since their introduction in the fourth season.

Genre Styles
Western Classical styles
Contemporary, Lyrical, Modern, Ballet/Pas de Deux
Dee Caspary, Tessandra Chavez, Tyce Diorio, Joey Dowling, Justin Giles, Mandy Moore, Mia Michaels, Dwight Rhoden, Desmond Richardson, Garry Stewart, Sonya Tayeh, Stacey Tookey, Travis Wall, Tovaris Wilson, Keith Young, Lindsay Nelko

Street and club styles[edit]

Hip-hop routines are also present in every performance episode. While these routines frequently feature elements from many different subgenres of hip-hop (locking and popping, for example) and various "street" styles (such as breaking), they are typically all labelled under the umbrella term of hip-hop. An exception is the now frequently featured lyrical hip-hop, which is unique amongst all the styles on SYTYCD in that it is the only one that is held to have become a known distinct style at least in-part as a result of the show; the style is widely attributed to regular show choreographers Tabitha and Napoleon D'umo and the term itself to judge Adam Shankman. These two broad categories are occasionally supplemented by krump routines, which have been featured a few times a season since their introduction in season 2. Additionally the styles of breakdancing (in the sense of a full breaking routine as opposed to a hip-hop routine with a few breaking tricks), waacking, and stepping have all been featured in exactly one routine. In Season 12, there are more street style dances because of the season's new format where there are 10 street dancers which do only street styles.

Genre Styles
Street and Contemporary Club Styles
Hip-hop (umbrella term for all Popping, Locking, and New Style/Commercial Hip-Hop styles), Lyrical Hip-hop, Breaking/B-boying, Krump, Stepping, Waacking
Cicely Bradley, Luther Brown, Tessandra Chavez, Tabitha and Napoleon D'umo, Dan Karaty, Marty Kudelka, Lil' C, Chuck Maldonado, Todd Sams, Christopher Scott, Dave Scott, Shane Sparks, Jamal Sims, Olisa Thompson, Dana Wilson, Pharside and Phoenix, Luam.

Ballroom styles[edit]

Ballroom styles are also seen regularly in every performance episode; these dances may be traditional European-derived styles or Latin-American styles or a mix of the two.

Genre Styles
Standard/Smooth Ballroom styles
Foxtrot, Tango, Argentine Tango, Quickstep, Waltz (including Smooth Waltz, Slow Waltz, American Slow Waltz, and Viennese Waltz variants)
Latin/Rhythm Ballroom styles
Cha-Cha-Cha, Jive, American Jive, Mambo, Paso Doble, Rumba, Salsa, Street Salsa, Samba, African Samba
Leonardo Barrionuevo, Dmitry Chaplin, Alex Da Silva, Anya Garnis, Jean-Marc Généreux, Jason Gilkison, Hunter Johnson, Pasha Kovalev, Melanie LaPatin, Miriam Larici, Liz Lira, Michael Mead, Tony Meredith, Tomas Mielnicki, Ron Montez, France Mousseau, Mary Murphy, Toni Redpath, Jonathan Roberts, Fabian Sanchez, Edward Simon, Heather Smith, J.T. Thomas, Louis Van Amstel, Gustavo Vargas, Glenn Weiss

Jazz, Broadway, and musical theater styles[edit]

Jazz is featured in nearly all performance episodes. While these routines are typically labelled simply "Jazz", the genre is notable as being one of the most fusional featured on the show and various style combinations and sub-categories have been referenced. Descended from Jazz but treated as a separate genre on SYTYCD, "Broadway" is analogous to the label "Musical Theater" outside the U.S.

Genre Styles
Jazz Styles
Jazz, Contemporary Jazz, Modern Jazz, Lyrical Jazz, African Jazz, Jazz-Funk, Latin Jazz, Pop-Jazz/Pop
Broadway/Musical Theatre Styles
Broadway, Burlesque, Can-Can, Tap
Andy Blankenbuehler, Sean Cheesman, Tyce Diorio, Brian Friedman, Laurie Ann Gibson, Derick K. Grant, Charles Klapow, Ray Leeper, Spencer Liff, Mandy Moore Anthony Morigerato, Amanda Robson, Wade Robson, Sonya Tayeh

American social styles[edit]

These dance styles are featured less frequently than their ballroom relatives, but have been seen intermittently since the first season.

Genre Styles
American Social / Traditional Club Styles
Charleston, Country-Western Two-Step, Disco, Go-Go, Hustle, Lindy Hop, Rock n' Roll, Swing, West Coast Swing
Ronnie DeBenedetta, Carla Heiney, Brandi Tobais, Travis Payne, Doriana Sanchez, Benji Schwimmer, Kristen Sorci, Maria Torres, Nick Williams

Regional/traditional styles[edit]

In addition to the broad categories above, many more styles that are less common in the U.S. are sometimes featured. Most of these are seen only once, but the Bollywood style has been featured several times per season since the fourth season.

Genre Styles
Regional/Traditional Styles
Bollywood, African, Capoeira, Kalinka, Malevos, Tahitian, Tropak
Lilia Babenko, Leonardo Barrionuevo, Nakul Dev Mahajan, Miriam Larici, Tiana Liufau, Youri Nelzine.


Grand Finalists[edit]

Season Winner Runner-up Third place Fourth place Fifth place Sixth place
1 Nick Lazzarini
(Contemporary Jazz)
Melody Lacayanga
Jamile McGee
Ashlé Dawson
2 Benji Schwimmer
Travis Wall
Donyelle Jones
Heidi Groskreutz
3 Sabra Johnson
Danny Tidwell
Neil Haskell
Lacey Schwimmer
4 Joshua Allen
Stephen "Twitch" Boss
Katee Shean
Courtney Galiano
5 Jeanine Mason
Brandon Bryant
Evan Kasprzak
Kayla Radomski
6 Russell Ferguson
Jakob Karr
Kathryn McCormick
Ellenore Scott
Ashleigh Di Lello
Ryan Di Lello
7 Lauren Froderman
Kent Boyd
(Contemporary Jazz)
Robert Roldan
(Contemporary Jazz)
8 Melanie Moore
Sasha Mallory
(African Jazz)
Marko Germar
(Contemporary Jazz)
Tadd Gadduang
Female winner Male winner Female runner-up Male runner-up
9 Eliana Girard
Chehon Wespi-Tschopp
Tiffany Maher
Cyrus "Glitch" Spencer
10 Amy Yakima
Du-Shaunt "Fik-Shun" Stegall
Jasmine Harper
Aaron Turner
Winner Runner-up Third place Fourth place
11 Ricky Ubeda
Valerie Rockey
Jessica Richens
Zack Everhart, Jr.
12 Gaby Diaz
Jaja Vaňková
Virgil Gadson
Hailee Payne

Season 1[edit]

Season 2[edit]

The second season premiered on May 12, 2006. The top 20 finalists were revealed on June 8, and the winner, Benjamin Schwimmer, was named "America's Favorite Dancer" on August 16, 2006 after 16 million votes were collected for the season finale. Travis Wall was the first runner-up, and Donyelle Jones was named second runner-up. There were several changes to the show's format in the second season. This season was the first to feature two episodes per week, splitting the bulk of the performances and the voting results segments between two nights. New styles of dance were also introduced, and the winning prize was increased from US$100,000 to $250,000 and also included a new car and a one-year contract to perform in a Céline Dion show then performing Las Vegas. The season was also the first followed by a live tour for the top ten dancers.

Season 3[edit]

Open auditions for season 3 began early October 2006, held in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Atlanta. Like the previous season, those that made the cuts moved on to Las Vegas. The taped auditions premiered on the Fox on May 24, 2007, and the subsequent shows were taped and broadcast live for a 12-week season. Cat Deeley returned as host, and Nigel Lythgoe returned as permanent judge. Joining Lythgoe permanently at the judging table was Mary Murphy; her promotion was reported by TV Guide on March 8, 2007. The prize for the winner remained at $250,000 cash. On the performance finale show (August 16, 2007), it was announced that the series had been picked up for a fourth season. Sabra Johnson was named "America's Favorite Dancer," while Danny Tidwell (brother of season 2 runner-up Travis Wall) was named runner-up.

Season 4[edit]

Auditions for Season 4 began in Texas on January 17 and took place in six locations through March 2008. The show kicked off its two-hour season premiere on May 22, 2008.[3] Cat Deeley returned as host and Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy as permanent judges. This season saw the introduction of new dance styles, including Bollywood, and new choreographers, including hip-hop duo Tabitha and Napoleon D'umo. The prize for the winner was again $250,000 cash and the title of "America's Favorite Dancer" and additionally included an offer for a role in the dance film Step Up 3D. In the finale, viewers voted Joshua Allen as the overall winner, while Katee Shean was voted the top female dancer and was given a previously unannounced award of $50,000.[4]

Season 5[edit]

Auditions for Season 5 kicked off in New York City on November 13, 2008 and continued on to Miami, Los Angeles, Denver, Memphis, and Seattle. The premiere aired on May 21, 2009. Louis van Amstel joined the show's cast of choreographers and Shane Sparks returned to choreograph while on break from America's Best Dance Crew. The prize for the winner was once again $250,000 cash, the chance to be on the November 2009 issue cover of Dance Spirit Magazine, and the title of "America's Favorite Dancer." On August 6, 2009 (the finale), Jeanine Mason was given the title.

Season 6[edit]

After a low-rated special episode of Dance featuring Lythgoe presenting his and viewer's favorite dance routines from seasons 1–5, the sixth season of Dance, premiered on Wednesday, September 9, 2009.[5] Auditions were held in Boston, Atlanta, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Phoenix, and Salt Lake City.[6] Adam Shankman joined as the permanent judge for the first time this season. The winner was Russell Ferguson and the runner-up was Jakob Karr.

Season 7[edit]

Auditions began in Miami, Florida, on January 18, 2010, continuing through New York, Dallas, Nashville, and Chicago, ending in Los Angeles on March 26. The season premiered on May 27, 2010. This season introduced significant format changes to the show, with a Top 11 dancers instead of the traditional Top 20 and "All-Stars", contestants from previous seasons who returned to partner with the Top 11 for a portion of their routines. Lauren Froderman won this season with Kent Boyd as runner-up.

Season 8[edit]

Auditions started October 13, 2010 in Oakland, California and continued through November 15 in Brooklyn, New York. The premiere aired on May 26, 2011. This season began a new version of the "All-Star" format in which the All Stars didn't come in until the top 10. The show returned to a top 20 with couples. This season also marks the first time that the public can cast votes online, in addition to calling in, with a limit of 50 votes per viewer. On August 11, 2011, it was announced that Melanie Moore was the winner of season 8 and Sasha Mallory the runner-up. Together they received 79% of the 11.5 million votes.

Season 9[edit]

On October 6, 2011, Fox announced that it had renewed So You Think You Can Dance for a ninth season, which premiered on May 24, 2012. In January 2012, Lythgoe announced that the result shows had been cut by Fox.[7] On May 18, 2012, Nigel Lythgoe announced that two winners will be crowned: a male and a female.[8] The two winners announced on September 18, 2012 were Eliana Girard and Chehon Wespi-Tschopp.

Season 10[edit]

On December 20, 2012, Fox announced that So You Think You Can Dance was renewed for a tenth season.[9] Season 10 premiered on May 14, 2013, in its new Tuesdays at 8 p.m. timeslot.[10] The two-part premiere concluded on May 15, 2013 at 9 p.m., after the finale of American Idol season 12.[11] On September 10, 2013, Amy Yakima and Du-Shaunt 'Fik-Shun' Stegall were named the season 10 winners, becoming the first contestants to take the top two positions who had been a couple at the beginning of the live show competition. No music artists or special dance performers appeared on this season except for all-stars who were former contestants.

Season 11[edit]

On September 10, 2013, during the season 10 finale telecast, Lythgoe announced that So You Think You Can Dance was renewed for an eleventh season,[12] which premiered Wednesday, May 28, 2014. The season finale aired on Wednesday September 3, 2014. Contemporary dancer Ricky Ubeda was announced as the winner of the season with Tap dancer Valerie Rockey finishing as the runner-up.[13]

Season 12[edit]

A twelfth season of the show was confirmed in November 2014 in an announcement by Fox that also revealed significant changes to the show's format, including plans to divide contestants into two equally sized teams, one representing "stage" dancers and the other "street" styles, with one contestant eliminated from each team weekly until the finale.[14] Auditions for season 12 began on January 24, 2015, and took place in five major American cities.[15] Season 12 premiered on Monday, June 1. Tap dancer Gaby Diaz was announced as the winner of the season with Animation dancer Jaja Vankova finishing as the runner-up.

Season 13[edit]

On February 1, 2016, Fox confirmed that the thirteenth season of the series would premiere on May 30, 2016, but with a revamped format known as So You Think You Can Dance: The Next Generation. The season will feature young dancers between the ages of 8 through 13: the top 10 finalists will be paired with a So You Think You Can Dance "all-star" that will provide mentorship and participate as a partner in performances.[16]

Special show[edit]

On September 2, 2009, as prelude to season 6, a special show aired featuring judge picks for the top 15 routines from the first five seasons. At the end of the show, show creator and judge Nigel Lythgoe presented his favorite performance, a contemporary piece choreographed by Tyce Diorio and performed by Melissa Sandvig and Ade Obayomi.


So You Think You Can Dance premiered with over 10 million viewers in 2005. For Season 1, it was the No. 1 summer show on television. However, when NBC's America's Got Talent premiered in the summer of 2006, it took the title of "#1 summer show" and, over the past few years, has broadened its lead. In summer 2009, SYTYCD premiered strong with a 3.4 rating in its target demographic, although with the start of America's Got Talent roughly a month later in the same timeslot, Dance fell to No. 4 on the ratings board. It continued to lose viewers throughout the summer of 2009 and ended up with an average of approximately 8 million viewers. Fox then moved SYTYCD to its fall 2009 schedule where its ratings continued to decline; hitting an all-time series low of 4.6 million viewers for a "special" episode hosted by Nigel Lythgoe on September 2, 2009. The move to the fall was short-lived. After dropping to an average of 6 million viewers, Fox moved SYTYCD back to the summer in 2010. With Mia Michaels replacing Mary Murphy and former contestants termed as "all stars" being used as partners, the ratings for Dance continued to slide to all-time series lows; dropping to just 5.6 million viewers on July 15, 2010. For Season 7, So You Think You Can Dance averaged just over 5 million viewers. Soon after the season 7 finale, it was announced that Mia Michaels would be replaced on the judge's panel by returning personality Mary Murphy. The change appeared to have little effect on the ratings and the show continued to average just over five million viewers per episode in 2011's season 8. Season 9 saw a slight uptick in ratings early on, with each of the season's first five episodes garnering between six and seven million viewers, but the rise was short-lived and the show's ratings hit a new low of 4.16 million viewers on August 29, 2012. Season 10 maintained similar numbers, averaging about 4 million viewers per episode in 2013, with a 4.3 million viewership for the last episode of the season, an all-time series low for a finale.[17]

Despite the show being picked up for an 11th season prior to the conclusion of the 10th, in April 2014, Nigel Lythgoe released a number of comments via Twitter in which he announced that season 11 could be the final season of the show and appealing to fans to share the information ahead of the 11th season's May premiere in an attempt to augment the show's ratings for the upcoming season and bolster its chances at renewal thereafter.[17][18]

Influence and international franchise[edit]

Dance competition had been a part of American television for decades before the premiere of So You Think You Can Dance, but usually in the form of all-around talent searches, (such as Star Search, Soul Train, or Showtime at the Apollo). However, a season-long American Idol-like talent-search show with a sole focus on dance had never been broadcast on American network television. Producers and judges associated with the show have stated on numerous occasions, both within the context of the show and in interviews, that the series was meant to rejuvenate the visibility and appreciation of dance as an art form in the U.S. and to give exposure to struggling dancers. Series judge Mary Murphy says, for example, "Of course you hope you can make a living at it, because you don't want to give up on something that you do, but the honest truth is most dancers have to carry one or two jobs and dance as much as they can on the side -- it's a very lucky dancer who gets a full scholarship."[19] A number of dance-themed competition shows have been produced for American television since the premiere of So You Think You Can Dance, including America's Best Dance Crew, Superstars of Dance, and Live to Dance.

Since the premiere of the U.S. version in Summer 2005, localized adaptations of So You Think You Can Dance have been produced for 46 other countries.

In 2009, Lythgoe came together with fellow SYTYCD judge Adam Shankman as well as Katie Holmes, Carrie Ann Inaba, and others in the dance entertainment industry, in an effort to launch The Dizzyfeet Foundation, with the aim of providing scholarships and training to young dancers of limited means.[20] The foundation has been referenced sporadically on the show since. In 2010, Lythgoe, with the assistance of other SYTYCD personalities and long-time healthy lifestyles proponent Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, was successful in getting another of his dance-oriented concepts realized—an official National Dance Day, held now annually on the last Saturday of July, to promote fitness through movement.[21] This national dance day has been celebrated annually by the show since.[22]

Before the end of 2005, the year the series first premiered, its format had already been licensed for the first of a number foreign adaptations. To date, the resulting So You Think You Can Dance franchise has produced 25 shows representing as many different countries and comprising 70 individual seasons. These adaptations have aired in Armenia, Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Lithuania, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, South Africa, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and Vietnam. The most recent series to enter production, So You Think You Can Dance Arabia, is set to air in an as-yet undetermined number of Arab nations, but styles itself as representative of the Arab world at large, including the 21 members of Arab League.

Awards and nominations[edit]

Emmy Awards[edit]

Emmy Awards and nominations
Year Result Category Recipient(s)/
Style Music
2007 Won[a] Outstanding Choreography Wade Robson Pop-Jazz "Ramalama (Bang Bang)"—Róisín Murphy
Mia Michaels Contemporary "Calling You"—Celine Dion
2008 Won Outstanding Choreography Wade Robson Jazz Hummingbird and Flower/"The Chairman's Waltz" from Memoirs of a Geisha
Nominated Mandy Moore Jazz Table/"Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)"—Eurythmics
Nominated Shane Sparks Hip-hop Transformers/"Fuego"—Pitbull
Nominated Outstanding Makeup For A Multi-Camera Series Or Special (Non-Prosthetic)
2009 Won Outstanding Choreography Tyce Diorio Contemporary Adam and Eve/"Silence" from Unfaithful
Nominated Tabitha and Napoleon D'umo Hip-hop "Bleeding Love"—Leona Lewis
Nominated Mia Michaels Contemporary "Mercy"—Duffy
Nominated Dmitry Chaplin Argentine tango "A Los Amigos" from Forever Tango
Nominated Outstanding Makeup For A Multi-Camera Series Or Special (Non-Prosthetic)
Won Outstanding Costumes For A Variety/Music Program Or A Special Soyon An
2010 Won Outstanding Choreography Mia Michaels Contemporary "Koop Island Blues"—Koop feat Ane Brun
Contemporary Addiction/"Gravity"—Sara Bareilles
Contemporary "One" from A Chorus Line
Nominated Stacey Tookey Contemporary Fear/"Two Steps Away"—Patti LaBelle
Nominated Outstanding Makeup For A Multi-Camera Series Or Special (Non-Prosthetic)
Won Outstanding Costumes For A Variety/Music Program Or A Special Soyon An
Graine O'Sullivan
2011 Won Outstanding Choreography Tabitha and Napoleon D'umo Hip-Hop "Scars"—Basement Jaxx ft. Kelis, Meleka, and Chipmunk
Lyrical Hip-Hop "Fallin'"—Alicia Keys
Hip-Hop "Outta Your Mind" (District 78 Mix)—Lil Jon and LMFAO
Won Mia Michaels Contemporary Alice in Mia-Land/"Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic"—Sting
Contemporary "When We Dance"—Sting
Contemporary "This Bitter Earth/On the Nature of Twilight"—Max Richter and Dinah Washington
Nominated Mandy Moore Pop-Jazz "Oh Yeah"—Yello
Jazz "Boogie Shoes"—KC & the Sunshine Band
Contemporary "I Surrender"—Celine Dion
Nominated Stacey Tookey Contemporary "Mad World" (Alternate Version)—Michael Andrews ft. Gary Jules
Contemporary "Sundrenched World" (Live Session)—Joshua Radin
Contemporary "Heaven is a Place on Earth"—Katie Thompson
Nominated Travis Wall Contemporary "Collide" (Acoustic Version)—Howie Day
Contemporary "How It Ends"—DeVotchKa
Contemporary "Fix You"—Coldplay
Nominated Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program Cat Deeley
Won Outstanding Lighting Design/Lighting Direction for a Variety, Music, or Comedy Series Robert Barnhart
Pete Radice
Patrick Boozer
Matt Firestone
Nominated Outstanding Reality-Competition Program Producers
2012 Nominated Outstanding Choreography Stacey Tookey Contemporary "In This Shirt"—The Irrepressibles
Contemporary "Turning Tables"—Adele
Contemporary "Heart Asks Pleasure First"—Ahn Trio
Nominated Christopher Scott Hip-hop "Misty Blue"—Dorothy Moore
Hip-hop/Contemporary "Velocity"—Nathan Lanier
Nominated Spencer Liff Broadway "Whatever Lola Wants"—Ella Fitzgerald
Broadway "Please Mr. Jailer"—Rachel Sweet
Broadway "(Where Do I Begin) Love Story (Away Team Remix)"—Shirley Bassey
Nominated Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program Cat Deeley
Won Outstanding Lighting Design/Lighting Direction for a Variety Series Robert Barnhart
Matt Firestone
Pete Radice
Patrick Boozer
Nominated Outstanding Reality-Competition Program Producers
2013 Nominated Outstanding Choreography Sonya Tayeh Contemporary "Possibly Maybe"—Björk
Contemporary "Turning Page"—Sleeping At Last
Jazz "Sail"—Awolnation
Nominated Mandy Moore Contemporary "The Power of Love"—Celine Dion
Contemporary "Wild Horses"—Charlotte Martin
Nominated Tabitha and Napoleon D'umo Jazz/Hip-hop "The Circle of Life/Nants Ingonyama (District 78 Remix) from The Lion King"—Ella Fitzgerald
Jazz[23] "The Lovecats"—The Cure
Jazz The Beautiful People (District 78 remix)"—Marilyn Manson
Nominated Travis Wall Contemporary "Where the Light Gets In"—Sennen
Contemporary "Without You"—Harry Nilsson
Contemporary "Unchained Melody"—The Righteous Brothers
Nominated Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program Cat Deeley
Nominated Outstanding Lighting Design/Lighting Direction for a Variety Series Robert Barnhart
Matt Firestone
Pete Radice
Patrick Boozer
Nominated Outstanding Reality-Competition Program Producers
2014 Nominated Outstanding Choreography Christopher Scott Hip-hop "Trigger (Original Mix)"—Kezwik ft. Mel Presson
Jazz "Sand"—Nathan Lanier ft. Karen Whipple
Contemporary "The Gravel Road" from The Village (Score from the Motion Picture
Nominated Mandy Moore Contemporary "I Can't Make You Love Me"—Mark Masri
Jazz "Feeling Good"—Jennifer Hudson
Contemporary "Edge of Glory (Live from a Very Gaga Thanksgiving)"—Lady Gaga
Won Tabitha and Napoleon D'umo Hip-hop "Gold Rush"—Clinton Sparks ft. 2 Chainz, Macklemore, & D.A.
Hip-Hop "Run the World (Girls) (Nappytabs Remix)"—Beyonce
Hip-Hop "Puttin' On the Ritz"—Herb Alpert ft. Lani Hall
Nominated Travis Wall Contemporary "Hangin' By a Thread"—Jann Arden
Contemporary "Medicine"—Daughter
Contemporary "Wicked Game (Live at Kilkenny Arts Festival, Ireland 2011"—James Vincent McMorrow
Nominated Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program Cat Deeley
Nominated Outstanding Makeup For A Multi-Camera Series Or Special (Non-Prosthetic)
Nominated Outstanding Reality-Competition Program Producers

Teen Choice Awards[edit]

Year Result Category
2006 Won Choice TV: Breakout Show
Choice Summer Series
2007 Nominated Choice Summer TV Show
2008 Nominated Choice Summer TV Show
Choice TV: Reality Dance
2010 Nominated Choice Personality: Cat Deeley
Choice Summer TV Show

See also[edit]

Similar shows:


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  18. ^ Brown, Laurel (April 29, 2014). "Is 'So You Think You Can Dance' in trouble? Nigel Lythgoe tweets for support". Zap2it. Retrieved May 1, 2014. 
  19. ^ "L.A. Music Examiner - ''Catching Up With Mary Murphy at the So You Think You Can Dance L.A. Auditions". Retrieved 2013-10-20. 
  20. ^ Stewart, Andrew (July 2, 2009). "Holmes, Lythgoe team for Dizzy Feet". Variety. Retrieved 2009-07-09. 
  21. ^ "Norton Introduces Resolution to Launch Annual National Dance Day (7/13/2010)". Retrieved 2013-10-20. 
  22. ^ [2] Archived June 27, 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ Camus, Renee (September 20, 2013). "Choreographing Couple Tabitha and Napoleon Dumo: Not Just Hip-Hop Anymore". Los Angeles Magazine. Retrieved September 22, 2013. 'That first piece we did was not hip-hop at all,' Napoleon says about Love Cats. 'Cat [Deeley, the host] introduced it as hip-hop. During dress rehearsal, we made it very clear that it’s jazz-fusion.' 
  24. ^;

External links[edit]