Emmy-Nominated Choreographer Christopher Scott Explains What Makes ‘SYTYCD’ So Special
Updated: Apr 19
So You Think You Can Dance choreographer Christopher Scott not only has the opening group number on Monday's episode, but he's also one of the four Emmy nominees for Outstanding Choreography from the FOX dance competition show. Chris, along with Mandy Moore, Travis Wall and Al Blackstone, is being recognized for the continued artistic excellence the show has delivered since its first Emmy nomination in 2007.
The choreographer has added three nominations — 2012, 2014 and 2018 — to the total 64 nods the show has received over the years. He’s hoping to make this year special with his very first win.
When it comes to picking pieces for an Emmys submission in consideration for a nomination, this year was a bit different for Christopher. It was the first time he was in charge of deciding what pieces to submit.
"This was the first time it was a bit different. Normally the show does their submissions," he explains. "This year I had to come up with selecting my pieces which were kind of tricky, but I went with the two that stuck out in my head. I knew which ones I felt the most connected to and they fulfilled the most from the original vision."
Those two submissions were "Prism" and "Say You Won't Let Go." The former was a group piece with Season 14 All-Stars and the Top 6 contestants, while the latter was a duet between Allison Holker and Logan Hernandez.
"The intention for the choreography for 'Prism' was inspired by a friend who was training his dog and he was so proud," Christopher shares. "It made me think of how human beings are well trained and it begins when we are young kids — learning to raise your hand or waiting for a light at a crosswalk. The power of that with the use of blocks is almost like a training mechanism for human beings."
The second piece has a signature Christopher Scott lyrical hip-hop feel to it, but it's anything but ordinary. The performances he got out of Allison and Logan were extraordinary additions to his emotional piece.
"One of the things that made it special was it showcased the beautiful side of love and the chivalrous side of being a man in a relationship. Logan did that very well," Christopher says. "He brought a beautiful essence to the piece that was genuine. When I originally got the couple I was worried it wouldn't work. He's young and Allison is married, she knows what it is like to have that day-to-day connection with your husband. But Logan fully got it and fully connected to it. I was proud of him for that."
For Christopher, having a platform like So You Think You Can Dance has been a game-changer in his career. Even though the show is ultimately about the contestants, there is something special about the way producers treat choreographers.
"This is my eighth season and it makes me feel like the luckiest choreographer. To be in a place where they give you that kind of recognition is just amazing. We fight for it so much in everything else that we do. When I am doing deals for film and television, it's a struggle to get my credit sorted out or get it on the main title card," he explains. "This is a national television show that shows our face after the number is over. I wish for more of that in the industry because dance is such an important part of the industry. I'm proud So You Think Can Dance is doing that."
That tone of dance appreciation is set by executive producer Jeff Thacker, whom Christopher credits for making the show a place that celebrates choreographers and the art of dance.
"Jeff Thacker is a special producer for us," Christopher says enthusiastically. "When you are on a television show where all of these people love dance from the bottom of their heart, it is why the show has lasted 15 seasons."
Christopher is choreographing the opening group number on the August 20th episode and he gave Dance Dish a little tease of what to expect in the piece.
"I'm creating it now and getting it all organized. Everyone who is working on it saying it is a 'classic Christopher Scott routine.' I didn't know what that meant until this year, but there's a feeling involved in it that's powerful," he teases. "It has a powerful image that I’ve always been infatuated with."
Outside of SYTYCD, Christopher has a feature film that he produced and choreographed currently running on Showtime called All Styles. The dance film, starring SYTYCD All-Star Fik-Shun, Heather Morris and Tetona Jackson, will be released on DVD, iTunes and digital beginning on Sept. 25.
"First, working on a film starring Fik-Shun was so special to me," he says. "That kid is so talented, being able to see him grow as an actor was a proud dad moment. He's a master storyteller, so to see him on-screen now with dialogue — he's a special kid."
Dance fans will also see some familiar faces like Hok from Quest Crew, BDash & Konkrete from World of Dance and Jaja Vankova from Season 12 of SYTYCD.
As for Christopher's next project, he believes his dream project is "still on the horizon." He's itching to work with Crazy Rich Asians director Jon M. Chu again. He kick-started the choreographer's career with The LXD and Step Up movies.
"He's one of my mentors. He started off my career and he's another one who takes great care of dance and treats it like it's the most special thing. Every time I get to work with him, it changes me," he sums up. "I get to grow in a different way because I am allowed to — I try stuff, experiment and maybe fail a little bit. That's the process that I love."
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