SYTYCD judges, choreographers: the best dancer has never won

In four seasons, the best dancer has never won So You Think You Can Dance, the show’s judges and two choreographers told TV critics this morning. “It must be remembered, in the history of this show and how the voting has gone, why we call it America’s Favorite Dancer is I don’t believe ever the best dancer has ever won,” Nigel Lythgoe said, and Adam Shankman added, “Ever.”

They then went through each season and identified the best dancers who lost: Blake McGrath in season one (Nick Lazzarini won), runner-up Travis Wall in season two (Benji Schwimmer won), runner-up Danny Tidwell in season three (Sabra Johnson won), and Katee Shean in season four–although they added Will Wingfield, who Adam said “was the Chris Daughtry of season four.”

All of this seemed to be tacitly about Evan Kasprzak, who may win tonight. Nigel said that his brother, Ryan, is auditioning for season six, and said, “I personally think his brother Ryan is actually a better dancer”; Mia Michaels agreed.

They also discussed how the judges don’t judge the choreography, even when they hate it. Nigel Lythgoe said, “For the judges, this is a difficult thing. Sometimes we don’t like the choreography, but it’s really difficult to turn around. The choreographers have put themselves up there to be judged, and unlike Simon Cowell, when Simon turns around and says ‘That was a horrible song. Why did you sing that song? It was horrible,’ he is not working with Diane Warren. If I don’t like Mia’s choreography, I’m working with her. So if I say ‘I didn’t like that choreography’ — because it’s all subjective, it’s unfair on the choreographers. So we try and just look at what the dancers do. And in my opinion, every choreographer, whether they admit it or not, is trying to be better than the choreographer next to them. I mean, there are Emmys out there, and we’ve won three of them so far for our choreographers. So, you know, that’s a really good prize for the choreographer as well.”

Mia Michaels said, “The dancers and the choreographers, it is a marriage because, with bad choreography and a great dancer, you will sit somewhere in the middle and vice versa, but if you have a great choreography and you have great dancers, you are on top. If you are bad and it’s bad, it’s a wrap.”

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.