top of page
  • Writer's pictureKristyn Burtt

The Process of Getting a Piece on 'So You Think You Can Dance' Isn't Easy

Updated: Jul 4, 2020

On Monday, So You Think You Can Dance finally returned to its two-hour format and the show was busting at the seams with fantastic choreography. From familiar faces like Sean Cheesman to Al Blackstone, it was a joy to see so many different styles of dance represented on the show.

Viewers also saw two new choreographers make their debut on SYTYCD — KC Monnie and Jonathan Redavid. Executive producer Jeff Thacker had teased a few new appearances on the reality competition show when he was on To The Pointe in early August.

"This year, I will tell you we have also found a couple of good new choreographers — one that has never submitted before and one that has and has come back and thought about it,” Thacker explained. “We are very grateful. It's nice to introduce new choreographers."

Monnie confirmed that the road to his SYTYCD debut was a long one.

"This one took about a year and a half. It's about finding the right song and the right moments and the right people to do it on," he said. "I got a call last week and they said, 'You're doing it! It's happening.' "

Redavid also revealed that SYTYCD is a collaborative process when it comes to choreography.

"It was a video submission. Then 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.” Redavid shared. “I wanted to bring myself to the TV show as a first performance."

However, SYTYCD isn't right for every choreographer in the dance industry. Mandy Moore explained on To The Pointe that the fast pace and live-TV input from the judges sometimes scares a few creators away.

"It's not as easy as coming in saying, 'I got my cool moves, here we go!' There are time limits that are extreme parameters and there is an inability to really prep because you don't know who you have," she shared. "For some choreographers, that wouldn't work. You may be given someone who doesn't do your movement well. Some choreographers are not teachers, they are just creators of great movement. There's a lot of things that go into the bucket of being a choreographer on So You Think. Also, some people are not up for the challenge of having Nigel [Lythgoe] give his opinions about their moves."

Besides video submissions, agent choreography showcases are the other main way choreographers submit their work. This was the process used for All-Stars Jenna Johnson, Robert Roldan and Comfort Fedoke, who each choreographed a routine in Season 15.

"We started [the showcases] a while ago. It was created as an opportunity for Jeff and the rest of the production team to get eyes on people you just don't know or see something from someone you do know as a choreographer. They are really helpful, but also really brutal for people," Moore said. "Jeff knows what works for our show and he's been here since Day 1. It's great to get his feedback about things, even if it's critical. That doesn't mean it's not right for something, it just might not be right for our show."


For weekly dance insight that goes beyond the surface, join our Patreon page for weekly dance news, twice-a-week podcasts and dance-industry analysis: Patreon.

Need a gift idea for a dance lover? Check out my Amazon page for gift ideas.

If you make a purchase using the link included, we may earn a small commission.

bottom of page