• Kristyn Burtt

‘SYTYCD’ Executive Producer Jeff Thacker Gets Real About Season 15

Updated: May 23


So You Think You Can Dance is gearing up for Season 15 by holding the final round of auditions in Los Angeles this week. New York City auditions occurred earlier in March.


Contestants lined up early on Monday morning — some had a fast pass to the front of the line since they’ve auditioned and made it to the Academy in prior years, while others waited patiently for their turn. Monday was only the preliminary auditions for producers. If contestants pass that first test, they will be seen in front of judges Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy, Vanessa Hudgens and guest judge tWitch on Wednesday.


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Dance Dish caught up with executive producer Jeff Thacker at the auditions to ask a few questions that were on fans’ minds — including that Top 20 format. Is it a real Top 20?

“We have a very core section of fans and we listened to them. We like to switch it up a bit because we don’t like to become stagnant. We are going back to a Top 20-ish look,” shared Thacker. “There are lots of surprises and twists this year. Is it more like So You Think looked over the first few seasons? Yes, indeed.”


That begs the question — when is the Top 20 revealed? Is it at the end of the Academy or does something else happen? Thacker cryptically explained the answer.


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“Possibly. No surprise is a surprise if I tell you,” he laughed. ”There are some twists. Ultimately, we are looking for 10 guys and 10 girls.”


The one thing we do know is that the Top 10 format with 10 All-Stars for the full season is officially done and gone.


“We are going to bring the All-Stars about halfway through,” he said. “They aren’t going to mentor anymore, so it’s back to putting together the teams [of contestants] for Season 15.”


Thacker continued to show that there are twists and turns for the season by letting us know that the All-Stars don’t just show up during the Top 10 live shows — we will see them sooner than that.


“The first time we brought the All-Stars on was Season 7. We used to bring them in halfway through when we got down to the Top 10,” he revealed. “Depending on how we are massaging the season this year, we will bring in the All-Stars according to who’s left. But, we will see the All-Stars before we go into the live competition show.”


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So will SYTYCD see a greater mix of All-Stars compared to the last few seasons where the 10 teams were locked? Well, maybe not.


“Everybody has their favorites. It’s not just about being an All-Star because we have over 250 alumni. There’s something very special we look for in an All-Star because there are alumni who have gone through the competition and have been competitors and suddenly they switch back to being a competitor. We don’t want that,” Thacker said. “We want someone who has that strength other than being an amazing dancer. It’s not about being the best dancer, it’s not about being the best All-Star. It’s about what qualities we need to help you guide and take that person through.”


Season 4 All-Star, mentor and guest judge tWitch joined the judge's panel at both the New York and LA auditions. Thacker is unsure if he will be joining the judging crew for the full season.


“I don’t know. I will say that this time with the different styles at the Academy, we are going to invite the choreographer to join the panel — which we did in Vegas a few years ago,” he explained. “So there will be different faces on the panel. Will tWitch be there the whole time? I don’t know.”


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This summer is also bringing an abundance of riches when it comes to dance shows. World of Dance will again join SYTYCD this summer and the rumored — but not officially confirmed — Dancing With the Stars Jr. Has this affected SYTYCD’s talent pool for contestants?


“To be honest, I don’t know because we don’t ask too many questions. It’s not prohibitive as far as we are concerned. If you speak to those who have done World of Dance, contractually they have obligations where they can’t do other stuff — sometimes we find that out. Listen, as long as they are watching dance on TV and the dancing is great — there’s a place for everything. I am glad FOX has a standard and a seal in the world of dance on TV.”

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