The eleventh season of Fox’s long-running competition series, “So You Think You Can Dance,” is off and running and if you’re like me, you already are starting to line up your favorites among the Top 18 dancers left in the competition at this point.
In tonight’s episode, judges Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy and returning guest judge Misty Copeland will be weighing in on the new routines. Also, because this is a competition, two dancers will also be sent home based on viewers’ votes and the judges’ final decision.
The season is still fairly young but I know I already have a few favorites, which you’ll see in the body of this post. Also, I had the chance to chat with both Murphy and Emmy-nominated host Cat Deeley the other night at the infamous SoHo House where Fox’s Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour party was held.
While some shows in their 11th season might start feeling tired, Murphy told me she’s as thrilled as ever this season. “I can’t describe it but not knowing that we were going to have a season 11 and then finding out we had a season 11,” she said with a smile. “There’s such a special camaraderie this season, especially between me and Nigel and Cat and Jeff [Thacker, executive producer]. I feel like we’re closer than ever and we’re just so grateful and things are going really well. We love the cast and I love the fact that wherever I go people are running up to me to tell me their favorites, that they love the cast this season and it just makes you happy that we did a good job picking the dancers.”
However, she added, it doesn’t mean that her job, along with the other judges, is easy. “I think each season does get more difficult because the level of dancing does get higher and so narrowing it down to 20 [dancers] seems to get more difficult every season.” She also said that the crop of dancers this season is different. “We don’t have a Cyrus or a Fik-shun this year. There are more ballroom dancers and so it does make the show have a different flavor and that’s why we can be fresh and new because of that.”
Let’s check out Ricky and Valerie’s dance from last week’s episode:
Like Murphy, Deeley is also beyond excited for this new season. “My whole thing is when we see new people coming through with such enthusiasm, it’s not just cute, it’s infectious and they’re brilliant, too, so I get infectious with them,” she said. “It’s not like a reality show where we get them drunk and try to get them to fight with each other. It’s none of that. I love them and they love me and we have such a nice time. Listen, I love junky pop culture TV shows as much as the next but I love that this is about celebrating talent. I love that.”
Regular viewers may have noticed that Deeley, on occasion, will challenge some of the judges’ remarks post-performance so I had to ask how she gauges when to do that and when not to. “I’m very, very aware of being fair,” she told me. “You can’t say to one kid, ‘Oh, it was amazing. You put your own style on it.’ Then you can’t say to another kid, ‘Oh, no, you can’t do that.’ So then I challenge them.”
The Brit, who was recently seen in an acting role in the DirecTV comedy “Deadbeat,” also likes to see some variety at the judges’ table. “If there are three [judges] and they’re very technical…for instance, recently we had Nigel, Mary and Misty. I like it when there’s another judge who’s a bit more entertainment.”
While we’ve yet to see him this season, “Modern Family” star Jesse Tyler Ferguson has been a guest judge in past seasons and brings that entertainment element that Deeley personally likes to see. “Jesse is my favorite judge of all,” she said. “It’s so specific anyway and we have all of that but I think it’s very nice to have somebody who is just a fan of the show, knows everyone’s name [and] that makes it fun.”
Here is Emilio and Bridget’s dance from last week’s episode:
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.
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