After auditioning 2,300 dancers for the 11th season, Nigel Lythgoe is fired up over FOX’s Wednesday summer staple, “So You Think You Can Dance.”
A few weeks before its May 28 return, Lythgoe relaxes over coffee and toast with honey in a posh Manhattan restaurant and considers what’s new on the show that features the best dancing on television.
“We have new talent, what these kids are bringing to it and new choreographers,” he tells Zap2it.
This season will also feature dance crews, which viewers can vote for via Twitter, but they will not be part of the competition.
“The competition is the competition,” he says. “This year it’s back to the single, individual dancer.”
The judges remain the dynamic duo of Lythgoe and Mary Murphy, and the third alternates among those who have studied dance including Jenna Elfman, Misty Copeland and Tara Lipinski.
“She’s really good at telling somebody they are really bad,” Lythgoe says of the skater.
“Irina Dvorovenko, a ballerina, has told hopefuls, ‘You have very bad feet. You are not a bad dancer. Your face is very ugly,'” Lythgoe says. She doesn’t mean your face is very ugly; she means you are not using it well.”
Tony winner Billy Porter is also a guest judge, and Lythgoe is keen on having Broadway talent on the show.
“I love performers as well,” he says. “‘So You Think You Can Dance’ is just as much about performing as dancing. … I would never want it to be the best dancer. It is the favorite dancer.”
Lythgoe, who describes himself as the original Billy Elliot, admits he never expected this show to hit.
“I didn’t even think we would make it through the first season,” he says.
A former FOX executive had the foresight to have him make a pilot, which Lythgoe says was so awful it will “be buried with my bones.”
From that mess came the show, which ignited a passion for dancing. And dancing, as he says frequently, is all about passion.