‘SYTYCD’ Season 8: A Top 20 Returns, But Will Alex Wong?

Though the changes don’t rival those of “American Idol,” the next season of “So You Think You Can Dance” has enough little tweaks and tucks to excite fans.

First up, of course, beloved Mary Murphy will be back full time. “We’re very happy and it’s very important to have Mary back, especially since she’s in remission. She won’t be screaming as much as she did in the past, which is good for me too,” said executive producer and judge Nigel Lythgoe.

In addition to Murphy, the format will change in a way that fans wanted. “We’re bringing back the top 20 this season,” says Lythgoe. “And when we get to the top 10, is when we’ll introduce the all-stars. I don’t know who they are going to be yet. I want to make sure we complement the dancers that are in the top 10.”

Compliment? Or challenge? According to Lythgoe, if they have a lot of hip-hop dancers in the top 10, they’ll bring more classical in. If they’ve got classical, they’ll bring in more hip-hop. “Just to push them in other areas,” he explains.

One returning dancer diehards want to see is Alex Wong, who tragically had to bow out last season after suffering a serious injury. “Alex is about 80% back to full fitness, so far,” says Lythgoe. “That’s really great news. Hopefully Alex will be back. Not sure in what guise yet. We’ll have to wait and see.”

As for last season’s “curse” (i.e., several dancers were injured), Lythgoe’s got that covered, too.

We had dramatic injuries last season, and certainly Alex Wong,” he says. “But cracked ribs, broken toes – [that’s] a dancer’s life. What we didn’t do last season is do a ballet bar every morning. We have to do that for the warming up process even if they are not working immediately afterward – just the fact that they’re doing it for their body is essential. We also obviously need to monitor their work [and] how much work they are doing because it’s a really tough competition.”

Season 8 of “So You Think You Can Dance” premieres on Fox on May 26.

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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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