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SYTYCD is returning with ‘brand-new twists’—but without its host and judges?

SYTYCD is returning with ‘brand-new twists’—but without its host and judges?
So You Think You Can Dance 16 runner-up Mariah Russell and winner Bailey Muñoz perform a jazz routine to “Need You Tonight” choreographed by Ray Leeper. (Photo by Adam Rose/Fox)

Fox’s dance competition So You Think You Can Dance is returning after being off the air since 2019. Season 17 will premiere this summer.

During the Before Times of early 2020, the show was renewed for season 17, but the pandemic caused that season to be cancelled, and Fox never said anything about it after that.

When the 2020 renewal was announced, Cat Deeley was set to return as host, with judges Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy, and Laurieann Gibson.

None of them are mentioned in Fox’s press release today except for Nigel Lythgoe, but he is mentioned only in the list of executive producers as a co-creator. That suggests to me that the show will be making some changes.

Update: Nigel Lythgoe will not be judging, and that was not his choice. He tweeted that “On a personally sad note, I have not been asked to be on the judging panel this season. I don’t know who will be saying ‘Cue Music’ but I wish them well.”

SYTYCD 16 finalists Sophie Pittman and Gino Cosculleuela perform a contemporary routine to “You Will Be Found” choreographed by KC Monnie
SYTYCD 16 finalists Sophie Pittman and Gino Cosculleuela perform a contemporary routine to “You Will Be Found” choreographed by KC Monnie (Photo by Adam Rose/Fox)

I can’t quite imagine SYTYCD without long-time host Cat Deeley, though I could see producers completely refreshing its judging panel, like American Idol did so successfully when it moved to ABC.

Then again, ABC announced the return of American Idol‘s judges without mentioning Ryan Seacrest, because his deal hadn’t yet closed, but of course he returned.

Perhaps Fox is just announcing the show’s return before cast deals are closed, and we’ll see Cat Deeley and others return. We should know more as the auditions get underway in the next few months.

Then again, casting changes wouldn’t be new for So You Think You Can Dance. It had a different host in season one, and starting in 2016, went through years of changes, including shuffling through judges—it brought in Paula Abdul and lost Mary Murphy, and then lost Paula Abdul and brought back Mary Murphy—and refreshed its format and staging. It also dropped its results show and pandered to kids for an entire season, too.

What will SYCYTD 17’s ‘twists and turns’ be?

So You Think You Can Dance host Cat Deeley on the SYTYCD 16 finale
So You Think You Can Dance host Cat Deeley on the SYTYCD 16 finale. (Photo by Adam Rose/FOX)

Besides a potential change in judges and host, the other big question is how different will this new season of So You Think You Can Dance will be in terms of its format.

The show hasn’t changed its general casting call, although it did add one requirement: Applications are now open for dancers ages 18 to 30 who’ve been fully vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19.

Auditions will take place in New York City, Los Angeles, and New Orleans.

The production company also hasn’t changed, though its name did: Dick Clark Productions was renamed MRC Live & Alternative last year.

For So You Think You Can Dance season 17, Fox promised “new twists” and “new surprises” back in 2020, and in 2022 it’s promising “brand-new twists and turns.” I just hope a monster isn’t involved.

In its announcement, Fox said very little about the new season, though it did preview the format, which sounds similar to what SYTYCD had been doing:

The upcoming season will feature highly skilled dancers between the ages of 18 and 30, showcasing their talents in various dance styles, including contemporary, tap, hip-hop, ballroom, animation, breaking and more. Those who are selected to move on to the SYTYCD studio will work with world-renowned choreographers and compete each week in a variety of styles, with brand-new twists and turns introduced into the competition.

This story was updated to include Nigel Lythgoe’s tweet about his exit from the judging panel.

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  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.


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Happy discussing!


Friday 11th of March 2022

I love Cat Deeley! To me she IS the voice of SYTYCN.

Jeff Metzner

Friday 4th of March 2022

It never occurred to me that it was even possible that Nigel could be off the show. I thought he was in charge. I hope this doesn't turn into a DWTS situation.


Sunday 13th of March 2022

@Jeff Metzner, I feel the same way. DWTS went downhill because of Tyra Banks…big time!


Friday 11th of March 2022

@Jeff Metzner, Yes, I agree about hoping it doesn't turn into another DWTS thing.