The hit show So You Think You Can Dance is currently undergoing growing pains as it struggles to push the artistic envelope and keep fans happy. Now in its eighth season SYTYCD continues to influence the dance world by bridging popular dance and music with the highest-level arts. Its Emmy winning formula creates dance stars like Kathryn McCormick (lead in upcoming Step Up 4), Kayla Radomski (Glee 2009), Travis Wall, Twitch Boss (Step Up 3D), Will Wingfield (Broadway’s In the Heights), Chelsie Hightower (Dancing with the Stars), Comfort Fedoke (Glee), Kherington Payne (Fame 2009/No Strings Attached 2011), and Dallas-Fort Worth winner Joshua Allen (Step Up 3D).
SYTYCD 8 continues to juggle format and judging issues, however they have an outstanding group of dancers. Talented dancers like frontrunners Melanie Moore, Sasha Mallory, Mitchell Kelly and Tadd Gadduang are inspiring the choreographers. Keeping the show fresh involves a wide range of genres and choreographers including Nappytabs, Stacey Tookey, Sonya Tayeh, Christopher Scott, Travis Wall, Tyce Diorio, Mandy Moore, Jean-Marc Généreux, Nakul Dev Mahajan, Dee Caspary and Justin Giles. As the season continues the list keeps growing.
In keeping with Executive Producer Nigel Lythgoe’s artistic mission, many of the world’s best dancers and leading dance companies are guest artists and choreographers. The Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, Alvin Ailey and Complexions have made appearances. Keeping things closer to home Ben Stevenson’s Texas Ballet Theater dancer Eddy Tovar appeared on SYTYCD in 2008 when he was with the Los Angeles Ballet. This season American Ballet Theatre soloists Yuriko Kajiya and Jared Matthews are scheduled to perform the Grand Pas de Deux from Act III of Don Quixote on July 22.
The Season 8 format has Top 20 dancers with contestants partnering each other again. The All-Stars will be introduced when the Top 10 are announced. Lythgoe’s dream of raising the dancers’ game by eliminating at least one novice in a dance genre was foiled by fan complaints. In the current format popular and stronger dancers allow weaker dance partners to continue. The only time a dancer is in jeopardy is when the couple is in the bottom three.
Many dance fans long for the perfect match between contestant and professional. Fans are divided and SYTYCD is left with attempting to balance great dancing with the charm of partners bonding and growing together. However in the revamped Season 7 there was a controversial amount of injuries, including the popular Alex Wong. With only ten dancers selected, the number of injuries had fans worried about the show. Fans also grieved the loss of Alex Wong who was the season’s most popular dancer. Many wondered if the dancers were pushed too hard. A good article describing Wong’s injury and current goals is in Dance Spirit Magazine.
Part 2 of this series covers SYTYCD and its impact on the arts and fans
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