So You Think You Can Dance has once again escaped cancellation, but when it returns next summer, it will have a slightly different twist, with two teams of dancers led by mentors during the auditions. Last summer, it also had a slightly different twist that didn’t change much.
For season 12, dancers will be separated based on their genre into “stage” (ballet, contemporary, jazz, tap) and “street” (hip-hop, breaking, animation) teams. That only lasts until the top 20, though, when the show will essentially return to its normal format. Here’s how Fox describes the changes:
“Throughout the auditions, the dancers who advance will be placed into two teams – the STAGE dancers, featuring those trained in styles such as contemporary, ballet, jazz or tap; and the STREET dancers, hopefuls skilled in hip-hop, animation or breaking. As the auditions continue, the judges, along with each team’s All-Star Mentor, will eliminate dancers until only the Top 20 – 10 Street Dancers and 10 Stage Dancers – remain. When the competition goes ‘live,’ the Top 20 will be challenged weekly to perform a variety of styles, working with world-renowned choreographers. One dancer from each genre will be eliminated each week leading up to the Season Finale. Who will win…a dancer from the stage or the street? Find out when SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE returns in summer 2015.”
In the press release, Fox reality exec Simon Andreae calls this “a thrilling new twist that will bring it up to date and introduce a whole new set of rooting opportunities.” Nigel Lythgoe said, “Dancers from different genres have always been competitive with each other and we’ve found a great way to harness that to bring out the absolute best performances in the best dancers across the country.”
Rooting opportunities? Harnessing competitiveness? Were those actual problems? No.
Ultimately, this seems like little meaningful change to a series that desperately needs a true makeover. Instead, it’s just a way to artificially create tension between different types of dancers. That’s unfortunate because even as it has slid in the ratings, SYTYCD has always been about dancers transcending their genre of origin, and some of the most spectacular dances have been from people dancing outside their comfort zone. Yes, once the top 20 starts, it appears they’ll be dancing in different genres (“a variety of styles,” the release says), but the stage versus street designation seems like a way to box them in for no reason at all.
It is very early, it is just a one-paragraph description in a press release, so I hope So You Think You Can Dance will be better than this not-very-promising twist sounds.