• Kristyn Burtt

'So You Think You Can Dance' Delivers Some Serious Classical Jazz This Season

Updated: Jun 29


On reality dance competition shows, it's always been easy to find good hip-hop, ballroom and contemporary dance routines. Between the three major shows — So You Think You Can Dance, Dancing with the Stars and Worl

d of Dance — those dance styles are well-represented. But what about classical jazz?


More: So You Think You Can Dance': The Magic of Bailey Muñoz


This year, it seems to be a core focus on SYTYCD to bring the style back to the forefront. Yes, it's always been there, but the routines showcased this season feature inspiration from some of the great jazz masters of the 20th century like Jack Cole, Gus Giordano, Katherine Dunham, Luigi, Michael Kidd, Jerome Robbins and of course, Bob Fosse.


If you aren't familiar with some of the names on this list, it's because some of the jazz dance languages have been lost or watered down over the years. However. SYTYCD looks poised to bring it back, and it's awesome.


When Jonathan Redavid made his choreographic debut on the series in Week 3, he mentioned that executive producer Jeff Thacker and creative producer Mandy Moore were looking for an old-school classic jazz piece reminiscent of Jack Cole.


More: From 'Joika' to 'The White Swan,' Ballet Star Joy Womack Is Ready to Share Her Life Story


"I went in for a meeting where we discussed the piece together with Jeff and the crew. They said, 'We haven't done an old-school jazz piece for a long time, so we should bring it back.' It was wonderful for me because my real background is jazz," he said to Dance Dish.

Moore also delivered a 60s-inspired jazz dance with Madison Jordan and All-Star Lex Ishimoto on Monday. The vibe is reminiscent of “The Rich Man’s Frug” from Bob Fosse's Sweet Charity in 1969.

Ray Leeper, who has always been one of SYTYCD resident jazz choreographers, is on a roll with everything from traditional Fosse to straight-up 80s jazz choreography. The "Need You Tonight" number on Monday with Bailey Muñoz and Mariah Russell brought the house down during the Saturday taping. The standing ovation lasted several minutes.

More: ‘SYTYCD’ All-Star Gaby Diaz Steps in a Different Direction


What's wonderful about this resurgence is that it will influence dance studios and inspire their choreographers to make jazz dance a stronger part of their core curriculum. It also kicks up the ballet technique a notch since strength and precision are needed with this dance style.


This is why SYTYCD is so important to the dance landscape. It may not be a Top-10 network show, but it delivers an impact far greater than a Nielsen rating — it inspires generations of dancers and choreographers.


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