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  • Writer's pictureKristyn Burtt

'So You Think You Can Dance' is Back in a Big Way

Jensen Arnold SYTYCD

Reprinted from Dance Network.

The preparations for Season 14 of So You Think You Can Dance are underway as the final auditions occurred in Los Angeles over the weekend. After two experimental seasons with Stage vs. Street and The Next Generation, longtime fans are thrilled that the show is getting back to basics.

The level of competition is anything but basic. Dancers lined up around a full city block in downtown LA waiting for their turn on the Orpheum Theatre stage. This group of hopefuls included all types of performers between the ages of 18-30 from all over the country.

In addition to the age group going back to adults, the Hot Tamale Train Mary Murphy is back where she belongs, on the judges' panel.

SYTYCD’s executive producer Jeff Thacker chatted about her return to the dance competition series.

“Now that we are returning to the adults, we open our flood doors and windows to welcome the Hot Tamale Train back,” he says. “The thing about Mary Murphy that makes her stand out is that she has a heart, she’s invested in the kids and the show. She doesn’t hold back. Mary adds a unique flavor to our show.”

Dance Network pressed Thacker on that third judge, but he remained tight-lipped. However, it sounds like they are zeroing in a celebrity versus a choreographer to fill the spot.

“We are not on the air yet and the people we are asking are still working and we don’t know,” he explains. “We will announce it soon.”

Update: It's Vanessa Hudgens!

Another hot topic is the All-Stars. The format will be similar to Season 13 where the 10 All-Stars pick their contestant during Academy Week. It appears that the cast will include some of last season’s All-Stars along with a few new faces.

“From last season, we are bringing back what we call our ‘big guns,’ but we have some exciting new ‘big gun’ All-Stars joining us this season,” Thacker says. “With adults, there will be a different dynamic in the partnerships.”

Another big addition to the show is happening behind the scenes with La La Land choreographer Mandy Moore stepping up into an elevated role as a creative producer. This new position will differ slightly from her job at Dancing With the Stars.

“Like DWTS, I will help with creative moments like coming with songs, concepts and costume ideas and helping to coordinate the logistics of that,” she explains. “But it will also be organic where my role changes from week to week.”

Mandy Moore SYTYCD

One thing Moore is excited to see return this year is the Choreography Round during the auditions for the show.

“It’s a cool mix to see how people fight for something,” she says. “You see who people are, even if they aren’t technically trained. You see how hard they want it — the hunger. That’s what you need on the show.”

The auditions also brought out a few legacy contestants — Shaheem Sanchez, older brother to Season 13 winner, Kida Burns, and Jensen Arnold, little sister to Season 9 Top 8 finalist and DWTS pro, Lindsay Arnold. SYTYCD host Cat Deeley made sure to stop by and chat with the two contenders while they waited in line.

Kida Burns SYTYCD

It’s a sure bet that both dancers will be featured in a package once the season begins. Burns was in attendance to support Sanchez, while the younger Arnold got some great sisterly advice before her audition.

“Lindsay told me to have fun since performance is a big thing,” Arnold shares. “She said to enjoy the experience because she loved it. The show was such a great stepping stone for her.”

Arnold is familiar to SYTYCD audiences because she helped Brandon Armstrong audition in Season 12. She was too young to get on the show, but she was lucky enough to get a “non-competing ticket to come back in 2016.” Well, that didn’t work out because she was then too old for Season 13, so Season 14 is her year.

“I am super excited to do this. And ballroom is back with Mary Murphy,” she exclaims. “The Hot Tamale Train!”

Yes indeed, ballroom is back… and so is the SYTYCD format we know and love.

Watch Dance Network’s Season 14 interviews with ‘SYTYCD’ Academy contestants Allen Genkin, Chanel Howard, Matt Wiercinski and Sade Keinu Austin:

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