Your favorite dance competition show — Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance — is back and better than ever. You can even take host Cat Deeley’s word for it. Now in its 16th season, the “brand-new” show is coming in hot with new judges, a fresh look, and most importantly, talented dancers. Here’s everything we know about season 16:
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- So You Think You Can Dance season 16 airs on Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on Fox.
- Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy are back as judges.
- There are two new(ish) faces at the judges’ table.
- Cat Deeley is hosting the show (yet again).
- The new season has a “brand-new look.”
- Jalen Sands and Sarah “Smac” McCreanor are standouts, so far.
- Mia Michaels
- Mary Murphy Returning to ‘So You Think You Can Dance’
- Dancing Queen! Mary Murphy on Her ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ Return
- Mary Murphy Net Worth
So You Think You Can Dance season 16 airs on Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on Fox.
In an exciting turn of events, the start date for So You Think You Can Dance was bumped a week earlier from Monday, June 10 to Monday, June 3. You know what that means? We’re one step — well, week — closer to crowning this year’s winner. After weeks of auditions and The Academy (think: bootcamp), we’ll see the Top 10 contestants take the stage in live broadcasts starting July 29. The SYTYCD season finale is set for September 9.
Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy are back as judges.
Because America needs more rides on the infamous hot tamale train. Lythgoe, a former professional dancer who later created American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance, has been a judge since the very first season — and he still loves the dance competition show today just as much as he did 15 years ago. “Each season — and we say this every season — that this is better than the season before. It’s because I think the dancers have learned by watching the different shows what is required of them and they just train in that and get better and better,” he told MUSE TV last season.
Murphy, who joined Lythgoe in the show’s third season, is also a former professional dancer — ballroom dance, specifically — known for her loud, vivacious personality. In fact, her high-pitch shrill and hilarious post-performance comments are so famous that last year’s contestants even attempted their best impressions at the end of the season.
For Murphy, the show still feels new and exciting — and it’s probably because she was away from SYTYCD during season 12 and 13 after her contract wasn’t renewed. In no time at all, FOX realized just how much the show needed her — and her hot tamale train — and Murphy re-joined for the 14th season. “It was really cool to know that you’re missed. When you’re in a show for so long, there are self-doubts, and you sometimes wonder, ‘Am I saying the right thing? Am I too loud?’ I always have to push those self-doubts away and be who I am,” she told Entertainment Weekly ahead of her return in 2017.
There are two new(ish) faces at the judges’ table.
Vanessa Hudgens and Stephen ‘tWitch’ Boss didn’t return for season 16. Instead, there are two very familiar faces on the panel: Dominic “D-trix” Sandoval and Laurieann Gibson.
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Now a successful YouTube personality, Sandoval was a contestant on season 3 of So You Think You Can Dance and later, a two-time winner of America’s Best Dance Crew. After season 16 was announced, Sandoval posted a heartfelt reflection on Instagram: “Before 2005, a dream for a dancer was to make a living by dancing for an artist, dance for someone’s music video, or maybe dance in a commercial. And although those are all awesome things, it wasn’t till So You Think You Can Dance, where you were finally able to make a living dancing for yourself.”
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If you’ve been a longtime viewer of SYTYCD, you’ll recognize Gibson’s choreography. She’s the mastermind behind some of the show’s most memorable contemporary dances to songs like “Bad Romance” and “Battlefield”, along with famous dances performed by Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, and Nicki Minaj. Now, it’s only fair that she’s getting some well-deserved screen time, especially after stints on Dance Moms and Born to Dance in recent years.
Cat Deeley is hosting the show (yet again).
The former fashion model joined So You Think Can Dance for season 2, replacing Lauren Sánchez. Since becoming a host on the show, the 42-year-old has even been nominated for five Emmy’s. For Deeley, her job still feels like a dream: “My biggest win of all is getting to host a show I love. That’s all I care about,” she recently told Gold Derby. “I do stupid things but I think the audience likes it. It’s that thing I love about live TV, that anything can happen.”
The new season has a “brand-new look.”
Before the season 16 premiere, Deeley teased that the show would have “new attitude” and a “brand-new look.” In the auditions alone, dancers perform in the round and the camera often pans to the crowd to get genuine audience reactions. It’s still up in the air if they’ll follow the same format for live performances. And while the reality show may have received a facelift, the goal is still the same: to find talented dancers who can truly do it all, from breakdancing to ballroom. “We’re about finding out about their backstories, sense of humors, and what makes them tick. But we’re also a show about celebrating people’s talents,” Deeley explains.
Jalen Sands and Sarah “Smac” McCreanor are standouts, so far.
First up: the audition round. Through July 8, we’ll see dancers between the ages of 18 and 30 who, if chosen, will compete in different styles including contemporary, tap, hip-hop, ballroom, animation, and breaking with the hopes of capturing America’s attention (and mainly, their votes).
Some of the show’s hottest talent (in SYTYCD history) has auditioned for the 2019 season. As of right now, there are a few dancers that have already captivated America’s attention: Jalen Sands and Sarah “Smac” McCreanor. Sands performed a mesmerizing contemporary routine to Desperado by Rihanna — and fans on Twitter already say that she’s the one to beat. “This performance utterly blew me away,” one Twitter user wrote.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Sarah “Smac” McCreanor’s comedic performance to “Boogie Wonderland” earned her a well-deserved spot on the show. Some SYTYCD fans are calling this LOL-worthy routine one of the most fun auditions — in the show’s history.
Amanda Garrity Associate Lifestyle Editor As the Associate Lifestyle Editor for GoodHousekeeping.com, Amanda oversees gift guides and covers home, holidays, food, and other lifestyle news.
Welcome back, City Kids! We took an extra long hiatus from the SYTYCD recaps last week, missing the slightly surprising departure of Mariah and BluPrint. This week, as an added bonus, we went to the studio and spoke to the dancers, the choreographers, and judges Mary Murphy and Nigel Lythgoe.
After a thrilling contemporary and Paso Doble group number choreographed by Sonya Tayeh and Dmitry Chaplin—the opening tableau alone was breathtaking—Cat Deeley introduced Nigel and Mary along with guest judge Anna Kendrick. She turned out to be a terrific judge: smart, funny, and adorable with insightful things to say. Much more useful than last week’s Carly Rae Jepsen, but that’s not saying much.
Cat revealed the unfortunate news that another dancer is out (at least for the evening) because of injury. Curtis couldn’t dance because of a torn rotator cuff and was ultimately eliminated, though they didn’t reveal that until the end of the show. Alexis was eventually let go too, making for an unsurprising yet disappointing elimination as two tappers bit the dust. What was surprising was how both Makenzie—again!—and Jasmine were in danger, along with Alan and Nico. The judges saved Makenzie straight away. Alan probably sighed in relief to learn Curtis was injured, securing Alan another week without having to dance for his life.
Jenna and Tucker first shared their early dance performances (disturbingly, Jenna already had the “sex kitten” thing down as a young child), then kicked off the night with an underwhelming Luther Brown hip-hop number. The giant set ultimately accomplished nothing, and the frequent booty shaking made us long for the lyrical hip-hop of NappyTabs, who deserves more of a presence this season. Nigel called the performance “unconvincing” and “unmemorable.” Mary complimented the dancers for attacking it with gusto and said Jenna was “ratchet,” and Anna coyly complimented them for being so loveable.
“Ratchet’s like Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj fighting on American Idol,” explained Tucker when we spoke to them. Jenna concurred: “That’s what told us it was, so that got us in the right zone.” Yeah, that clears things up. Thanks.
Alexis and Nico danced a slightly prophetic Sonya Tayeh routine as a couple whose relationship is ending with Nico moving on Alexis not being able to accept it. The choreography did wonders for Alexis, who looked great and showed a new side of her ability. She doesn’t have the confidence with other styles that she has with tap but this routine came close.
Because Curtis couldn’t dance, Hayley performed the Argentine Tango with co-choreographer Leonardo Barrionuevo. He and Miriam Larici created an exciting routine with plenty of actual tango as well as lifts, slides, and tricks; no heavy concept necessary. The frenetic ganchos (the kicks between your partner’s legs) were thrilling, and Hayley’s beautiful feet and legs carried her to a stunning conclusion. How exciting to dance with the choreographer, who in this case supported and spotlighted the contestant, unlike the later group number where Spencer Liff inadvertently showed up the other male contestants. Awesome Anna said she felt she could solve world hunger if she could have Hayley’s body for one day, and Nigel’s “bad boy” face was less sexy and smoldering and more hysterical-laughter inducing.
Makenzie and Paul also danced a Sonya routine, immediately showing Sonya’s move du jour: the extended sideways leg grab. Both danced wonderfully, dumbfounding the judges (and us) as to why Makenzie would be in the bottom again. Mary suggested that perhaps the screaming women who vote for Paul are jealous of Makenzie, who looked a bit like Angelina Jolie tonight (yeah, that’ll help her case). Nigel also said Paul was well on his way to winning this competition, as he did with Armenian SYTYCD.
Jasmine and Aaron danced a contemporary routine based on Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree. Nigel reminded us that the story is actually a happy one, where the tree wants to give all it has to the boy; Justin Giles’s commonly shared interpretation is more melancholy. As lovely and inventive as the routine was with the apple in constant motion, here’s another routine where the woman plays a not-quite human entity (a tree, a ghost, a mannequin) but the man remains a person. They’re similar in some ways to routines where a healthy man is supporting, or inhibiting, an afflicted woman (ie: Jenna and Tucker’s contemporary “Velcro” piece from last week, or Mia Michael’s brilliant “Addiction” from Season 5). Why is this convention so frequently used? Is there possibility for role reversal? Perhaps the choreographers feel the movement must be locked into traditional pas de deux roles.
Unlike Jenna and Tucker’s hip-hop routine, Amy and Fik-Shun’s was memorable. Though we groaned when Christopher Scott first explained his concept of Amy being Fik-Shun’s “catch of the day,” he choreographed an adorable, fun, flirty number distinctly lacking in overly sexual booty shakes.
“The hard part about hip-hop is there’s so many different styles,” he explained afterward. “You can do locking, popping, house dancing, all these different genres in hip-hop and booty shaking is one of them. It’s just not really what I do, so I stick with what I do and what I love.”
The stage was a veritable jungle of props, and one of them caught Amy: she slipped on her napkin and knocked over her chair but recovered beautifully. Nigel is right, however, that they’ve been playing the same kinds of characters from week to week.
Malece and Alan finished the duets with Jonathan Platero’s weightless “roller-coaster” salsa full of crazy lifts. We were concerned there wouldn’t be any actual salsa in the routine, but there was, and the initial big drop was thrilling: the audience let out an audible gasp. The flashy split-flip excited too, but later lifts felt slow and careful, if not downright awkward, and the dancers steadily lost energy—understandably so. Fortunately the producers showed the slo-mo replay, but they played back a different set of lifts from the one Nigel discussed. Despite an assumption that lifts are such a part of partner dancing that any ballroom dancer will have done many, Alan confessed, “there’re rules in competition where you’re not allowed to lift, so I’m not really trained in lifts.”
Two additional group numbers closed the show, one by Spencer Liff, the other by Bonnie Story of High School Musical. Spencer’s 1950s-inspired pool hall number featured Spencer himself, filling in for Curtis, to the detriment of the other male dancers. It was wonderful to see him dance; too wonderful, because he upstaged the others though Nico held his own. (We have a soft spot for Nico, and can’t wait to see what he’ll do next week with a strong, solid partner like Hayley at his side). Spencer confessed to us how exhausted he was and how grueling the schedule is. “My body hurts, I’m tired,” he says. “These kids are conditioned. We ran this number 5 or 6 times today full out, and they’re doing all these other pieces. I have a new sympathy for how difficult this show is on the dancers.”
Bonnie’s routine took on the socially conscious and relevant subject of bullying, one that is extremely important to the judges. “It is devastating that people are getting killed and kids are committing suicide over it, and that we’re losing a lot of people over just some ugliness. I just wish it would stop,” explained Mary. “The bullying goes on at all levels. My brother was savagely attacked at his work , and for no real reason. To think that there are adults doing this kind of stuff too, you think you grow up past that. We have to bring awareness that it’s happening at every age.”
We’re amazed this topic hasn’t been addressed in dance before, at least not on the show. Though at times heavy-handed or too literal, Bonnie’s choreography was beautiful, giving Amy and Fik-Shun a chance to show a different side. Anna expressed a common sentiment, thanking SYTYCD for giving dance a platform. Indeed. It deserves every Emmy nomination it receives.
When the hit reality series “So You Think You Can Dance” premiered in the summer of 2005, contemporary choreographer Mia Michaels was an integral part of its rotating cast of choreographers and guest judges. She continued her work on the show for five seasons, earning two Emmy nominations for Outstanding Choreography, and winning one in 2007 for a piece she created to Celine Dion’s “Calling You,” also known as The Bench routine.
Then, on Oct. 14, 2009, she tweeted an enigmatic message that implied she’d be leaving “So You Think You Can Dance,” much to the surprise of the show’s fans.
The Wall Street Journal talked to Ms. Michaels about her reasons for leaving the show, what she has lined up for her immediate future, and why you shouldn’t judge a choreographer by her haircut.
The Wall Street Journal: So many people were shocked by the news of your departure from “So You Think You Can Dance.” Why did you leave?
Mia Michaels: It had been five years — and I was there from day one. Basically, I felt like it was time for me to go because I wasn’t growing anymore, in any capacity. I wasn’t able to expand into a director, creator, producer. I had all these other opportunities in front of me.
From the screen to the stage, Mia has transformed dance into inspired and unique works of passion and beauty. This year will mark a highly anticipated stage venture that will propel this multiple Emmy award winner to even further heights as one of our most sought after innovators, not only in the world of dance, but in the entire entertainment industry.
In 2015, Mia joined forces as choreographer with dream team Harvey Weinstein, Diane Paulus, and Barry Weissler for the hugely successful Broadway musical FINDING NEVERLAND. She choreographed a special preview of the song, “Neverland” for the 68th Tony Awards featuring Academy Award winner Jennifer Hudson, as well as served as guest choreographer of the opening number for the Rockettes Spring Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall and as guest artist and mentor at Broadway at the White House hosted by Michelle Obama, Kristen Chenoweth, and Matthew Morrison.
Mia has served as the ever-popular judge and contributing choreographer for Fox’s award winning hit TV show “So You Think You Can Dance” (SYTYCD). Not only has Mia won three Emmy awards for Outstanding Choreography for her work on SYTYD, but her role in SYTYCD contributed to the show receiving the “Best Reality TV Show” award at the 2008 Reality TV Show Awards. Additionally, her brilliant choreography and huge fan-base in Canada has led her to share her talents for a reoccurring role as judge and guest choreographer with SYTYCD Canada for the entirety of the four year series. Mia also directed and choreographed a dream sequence with Hugh Laurie for the hit television show, HOUSE MD, entitled “Get Happy.”
Mia’s choreography was showcased when she reunited with her SYTYCD judge alumnus, Adam Shankman, in the big screen adaptation of the hit Broadway musical, ROCK OF AGES. Her moves were showcased by the star-studded cast, which includes Tom Cruise, Julianne Hough, Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand and Catherine Zeta-Jones. She followed that with a co-starring role in Summit Entertainment’s STEP UP 4.
She directed and choreographed Blake McGrath’s Relax video, which was nominated for Video of the Year at the 2011 MuchMusic Video Awards. Other work in film and television includes: “Cool Women” for AMC/DreamWorks Television, and award winning commercials for Mike’s Hard Lemonade, Bacardi, Coldwell Banker, Ziploc, the WNBA, Star TV and VISA.
Mia choreographed the most notable Celine Dion show, A New Day, which played at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas for over five years and received stunning reviews. The New York Times raved, “The greatest pleasure…was the go for-broke physicality of the choreography”. The show featured a cast of 50 dancers with two hours of pure dance artistry. Other shows featuring Mia’s choreography include Celine Dion’s world Tour, Taking Chances and Cirque du Soleil’s first touring show, Delirium, which premiered in March 2006. She has also created works for numerous recording artists including Madonna, Ricky Martin, Gloria Estefan, Anna Vissi, and Prince.
Mia’s dedication to the art of dance naturally carries a presence in the dance concert arena. Included in her diverse concert and stage work was the critically acclaimed New York based dance company, RAW, for which she was the founder, artistic director, and choreographer; the Paper Mill Playhouse’s production of “Hello Dolly!” starring Tovah Feldshuh; Les Ballet Jazz de Montreal; and Jazz Dance Chicago. Recently, Mia was honored with the prestigious Tom Adams award for her dedication to TITAS and the arts. The La Fete du Ballet chairs, Ambassador Ron Kirk and Matrice Ellis-Kirk, presented the award.
Mia’s expertise in the area of dance has made her a highly sought after guest instructor and choreographer worldwide. She has held faculty positions at prestigious institutions of dance around the world including Alvin Ailey, the Joffrey Ballet, and International Dance Festivals all over the world. Mia continues to teach inspirational master classes worldwide. Every year Mia is on faculty for the Jump International Tour with Break the Floor Productions for 100,000 aspiring dancers. This dynamic and unique weekend dance event features the top choreographers and instructors within the dance industry. Her students and peers around the world have noted her as a memorable influence. She has a way of touching people’s lives with passion, emotional expression and style of dance.
Mia is currently working on writing a book, which will be a memoir that will certainly inspire dance professionals and fans throughout the world.
Mary Murphy Returning to ‘So You Think You Can Dance’
Two years after her departure, original So You Think You Can Dance judge Mary Murphy is returning to the Fox competition.
The veteran ballroom dancer and longtime fan favorite, who left in early 2015, returns this summer to fill the slot vacated by her onetime replacement Paula Abdul.
“I am thrilled that Mary will return to So You Think You Can Dance and I’m sure the fans will be, as well,” said executive producer and judge Nigel Lythgoe. “She brings an energy and enthusiasm that’s contagious, and I can’t wait for her to join me on the judging panel. I’ve got a pair of earplugs ready, and another for our third resident judge, as well.”
Murphy joins Lythgoe, returning host Cat Deeley and a yet-to-be-named third judge. Her addition comes on the eve of auditions for the summer season. Casting gets underway Saturday, March 4, in New York — before auditions in Los Angeles later in the month.
As for Abdul, she’s not suffering any lack of projects since departing So You Think You Can Dance. The famed choreographer and former American Idol judge recently booked an NBC comedy pilot.
When the six-month mark rolled around, “I showed up like every good student would,” Mary says. “And they seemed to think that there was no growth, and that it wasn’t cancer.” This news left her feeling incredibly positive – perhaps a little too positive, even.
“I got busy,” Mary admits. “I got super busy.” In addition to filming back-to-back seasons of SYTYCD, Mary also signed on for the Canadian version of the hit show. Before she could catch her breath, three years had passed since her last checkup. But Mary wasn’t too worried about the tumor in her neck. “I felt like I could just wish it away,” she confesses. After all, she had gotten a positive report during her last checkup.
“To have this incredibly good news and incredibly bad news all at the same time, you don’t know how to feel.”However, Mary’s tumor had begun to grow, becoming noticeably visible. “All of a sudden, I started getting more tired; my voice became raspy,” Mary says. “It took energy to talk. Eventually, it became difficult to swallow.”
Mary Murphy (Photo by Patrick Ecclesine/FOX) These troubling symptoms convinced Mary to finally make that follow-up appointment she’d been putting off. Her doctor confirmed that the tumor had indeed grown, and it would need to be removed. Not only that, but because of the location and size of the tumor, there was a chance surgery would leave her unable to speak.
“That got my attention!” Mary proclaims, having recently signed a three-year deal with FOX at the time. “I felt like I can fight cancer, but I can’t fight not being able to talk again.”
After she awoke from surgery, the first thing Mary wanted to know was whether she still had her voice. “I pointed to my throat,” she says, “and my doctors said, ‘Yes, you’re going to be able to talk.’” Mary was relieved.
Next, she made the sign of a C with her hand and was given the news that the tumor was cancerous. “To have this incredibly good news and incredibly bad news all at the same time,” Mary concedes, “you don’t know how to feel.”
Though the cancer was successfully removed during surgery, Mary underwent radioactive iodine treatment to destroy any remaining thyroid cells in her body. This required seven days of isolation – not an easy task for someone as outgoing as Mary.
“I’m a people person,” Mary says, letting loose her signature laugh. “I certainly was chatting up a storm on the phone. I was talking way too soon, I was so happy to be talking.”
Though Mary took a year off from SYTYCD to deal with her health, she came back cancer free and screaming (almost) as loud as ever in Season 8. “It just felt like a huge celebration,” Mary says of her return. “Everything was right with the world again, and I had come to the other side.”
As someone who’s always up for a good laugh, Mary recommends that anyone facing cancer should watch as many funny movies as you can to stay in good spirits. It’s what helped her get through that dreadful week of isolation. “There is no way that a hysterically funny movie is not going to make you laugh,” she says. “Even when you’re facing some of the saddest times of your life.”
Mary’s next piece of advice: “When somebody says you need a checkup every six months, do it.
Mary returned to the judges’ table for the ninth season of FOX’s So You Think You Can Dance. Keep up with Mary on twitter at twitter.com/HOTtamaleTRAIN.
This article was published in Coping® with Cancer magazine, November/December 2012.
Dancing Queen! Mary Murphy on Her ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ Return
So You Think You Can Dance is getting back its heart and soul. Famed choreographer and ballroom dance champ Mary Murphy returns as a judge for Season 14 after being dropped from the show two years ago. (Executive producer Nigel Lythgoe and actress Vanessa Hudgens round out the panel.) Does Murphy have any idea how much she was missed? Oh, yeah.
So You Think You Can Dance just wasn’t the same without you. You know that, right?
Hey, you know what? I actually do! I travel the country a lot—for dance events, but I also lecture on domestic violence and Alzheimer’s—and it’s overwhelming how many people come up and say they really want me back on the show. You never know how much you’re appreciated until something like this happens. It’s nice to be missed.
You’re known for your deeply emotional judging style. In fact, it’s the rare episode where you don’t break into tears. What’s that about?
I know from personal experience how hard a dancer’s life can be, and I’m just not OK with judges or critics who feel the need to humiliate and destroy a dream. And then to magnify that by having it happen on national television? Well, some people never recover from it. I’m here to be constructive, not to tear away at someone’s soul.
Mary Murphy Returns to ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ As a Judge
Season 14 of ‘SYTYCD’ will premiere this summer on Fox.
What’s the most devastating critique you ever received?
Back when I was all young and cheery and new to the dance world, a master coach came over from England and gave me a lesson and, with a look of utter disgust, said, “I wouldn’t dance with you if they paid me 50,000 pounds.” It was like a lead brick to my head.
Why are so many dancers capable of physical feats that were once unimaginable?
I know, right? Salsa dancers are now incorporating tricks into their routines that are so death-defying that—if they mess up—they’re actually risking their lives. They are that driven to break boundaries! And this is weird: We used to have street dancers audition for who were double-jointed, which was kinda creepy. I just can’t with that bone-breaking stuff. I can’t! But get ready. This season we have people who are triple-jointed! Who knew that was even possible?
So You Think You Can Dance, Season Premiere, Monday, June 12, 8/7c, Fox
Mary Murphy Net Worth
Mary Murphy net worth: Mary Murphy is a champion ballroom dancer and judge who has a net worth of $10 million dollars. Born in Lancaster, Ohio, Mary Murphy graduated from Ohio University, where she earned a degree in physical education. After moving to Washington, D.C., she entered a program that trained ballroom dance instructors. A classically trained dancer already, she whizzed through the program and began teaching the next week. She was invited to attend the US Ballroom Championships and fell in love with ballroom. She moved to California to focus on training, and within in six months reached the US Open Standard Final with her partner, Bill Milner. She went on to reach the US Open Smooth Final with partner Jim Desmond. They subsequently became the US Open American Nine Dance Champions. She retired from competition and opened her own dance studio, which she still runs. She also judges multiple dance competitions around the world. Her most high-profile judging job is on the reality competition series, “So You Think You Can Dance”, where she has served as a permanent judge since Season 3.