Executive Producer & Judge Nigel Lythgoe Talks About Adam Shankman & Season 6 Changes.

Nigel Lythgoe

On a recent press call, Executive Producer and Judge Nigel Lythgoe discussed Adam Shankman, Season 6, and more.

Although Season 6 is the first fall season of So You Think You Can Dance, Nigel promises that they aren’t changing too much about the already successful summer seasons to cater to a fall crowd of viewers. One change that we’ve announced is the addition of Adam Shankman as a resident judge. That means Tabitha and Napoleon, Lil C, Mia Michaels, Tyce Diorio, etcetera will most likely not be sitting on the judges’ panel this year. Nigel said, “It’s always difficult to put them in because I want them choreographing, and the minute they choreograph, they’re not allowed to be a judge…We will still have an open chair. I would still like Paula Abdul to pop in. I would still like guest judges to pop in when they can. Jennifer Lopez has said how much she loves the program. I would love her to come in and sit down. We tried it with Ellen. It was very successful. I just don’t want four judges every week.”

With each season of So You Think You Can Dance, the judges always mention how the bar is constantly being raised. “The standard of dancing is just improving all of the time,” Nigel stated. “All I’m seeing is this exponential growth that, all of a sudden, we’ve brought street dancing and formally trained dancing together and it’s exploded. Whereas the formally trained dancers didn’t want to take chances, the street dancers will do anything and, therefore, they’re teaching the formally trained, and the formally trained are turning around and teaching the street dancers lines and elevation and things, and it’s absolutely fantastic to see. It’s a great joy for somebody that felt dancing was stagnant for so many years to see this happen, and I’ve really seen a huge growth in five years. A formally trained dancer would never, ever jump onto the back of their head from a standing start without hands. There has always been this fear and knowledge of ‘no, I’ll hurt myself if I do that,’ whereas an untrained dancer will just go for it. So mixing those two things together, we have something very exciting, which I think has brought integrity back into the world of dance and everybody realizes that you have to be an athlete nowadays to be a dancer.”

Nigel opened up about the dancers on Season 5 versus the dancers he hopes to see on Season 6. “I thought technically [the Season 5 dancers] were superb and I would like to certainly keep that standard, that level of dancing, but I would like whoever we have this year to bring personality with it and bring charisma.” Nigel admitted he’d be a very happy man if he can achieve the perfect combo of Season 4’s personalities with Season 5’s technique.

As you saw in the Season 6 premiere, a lot of talented tap dancers have auditioned this year. Nigel said that tap dancers and ballerinas have come out of the woodwork, possibly because they were inspired by Season 5 ballerina Melissa. Will So You Think You Can Dance see their first tapper in the Top 20? “I think two or three of them will possibly even get into the top 20. They’re that good,” Nigel shared.

Recently, it seems like America is having a love affair with dance. Nigel always talks about his goal to promote dance as an art form and make it entertaining. “To be instrumental in trying to bring that back is absolutely fantastic, and it’s not just in this country. [SYTYCD] is the number one show in Australia, and the number one show in Canada. It’s a global phenomenon at the moment…all different forms of dance are coming through around the world and it’s just been out of the spotlight for so long. So to be a part of that movement and feel instrumental in it, to be frank, is absolutely wonderful. I’m so passionate about it. I’m so pleased that we can even start charitable foundations now to bring dance to people who can’t afford it…I would love it to be a legacy that’s followed up on long after this program is gone.”


121 comments on “Executive Producer & Judge Nigel Lythgoe Talks About Adam Shankman & Season 6 Changes.“

  1. Viki - wrote:

    So You Think You Can Dance has been must-see TV for me since Season 2. Here’s my two cents on this thread:
    1. Mary’s voice is like fingernails down a blackboard. Listening to her comments is much more pleasant when she uses her ‘inside’ voice.
    2. I will miss Mia Michaels terribly. Her choreography is amazing and she is so real.
    3. Bringing in ‘celebrity’ judges cheapens the show and distracts from the dancers. It’s an unnecessary ratings gimmick.
    4. Ellen DeGeneres was ill suited to sit in as a judge, no matter how much she herself loves dance.
    5. Please, oh please, do not have Paula Abdul as a guest judge.
    6. Having rotating judges was a good thing. I like Adam Shankman, but I also enjoy hearing from the other choreographers. I’d hate to see having three permanent judges lead to less diverse critiques.
    7. Although I was a professional musician/singer for many years, I’ve never been able to tolerate American Idol because of the way the show is put on and the inanity on the judges’ panel. Don’t let SYTYCD degenerate into another AI. Your viewers are not looking for bread and circuses.
    8. I have enjoyed seeing international, ethnic and cultural styles of dance be represented.
    9. Cat Deeley is naturally gracious and personable and obviously truly cares about the dancers. She’s a delight.
    10. Please allow the episodes to be viewed online after they’ve aired; there have been times when I’ve had a TIVO conflict and couldn’t record. Also, many of the dances are too beautiful to see just once.

    11/4/2009 12:27 AM UTC

  2. Jeffrey Gonsimatanu - wrote:

    Hello Nigel,

    As you know, in advertising- changes are needed to be done to stimulate interest. Of course, in TV you always need to have a product or show that generates the most viewers. Normally, you know you are doing a fine job with the show. I have interviewed a lot of people about your show and other shows. The problem is the behavior of Mary Murphy. I know many people “enjoy” hearing her scream and yell. If she were to do that in any other place other than the TV studio, of course that would not be acceptable and she may be arrested for exceeding noise levels.
    I know the dancers are great and young and they view the screams by Murphy as a positive sign indicating they aced the dance. I have spoken to many people and they refuse to watch the show now- since they do not want to hear Murphy scream.
    Murphy screaming is an unnecessary gimmick that is not needed on the show anymore. Otherwise, she has given excellent critiques, about 98 per cent of the time. You have produced many shows, and you could well think about some other gimmick that will generate interest. Murphy’s screaming is also setting a bad example, for the children who watch your show. Maybe, we should send Jo Frost, the Super Nanny over to show Murphy the proper behavior. Luckily, you are the one who has to sit next to her and possibly may be subject to obtaining a headache. But, you do not deserve to get a headache. Hopefully, she could lose her voice for once- and learn herself on how to generate interest.

    11/5/2009 12:51 PM UTC

  3. JJ - wrote:

    Hi Nigel,
    Adam Shankman was an excellent selection for the third judge. I love him. He is funny, entertaining and provides specific feedback which will help the dancers.
    As a matter of fact, all 3 judges have a great chemistry, Mary, Adam and yourself. guest judges are ok depending on the judge. For ecample, Paula Abdul is out of it at times and takes up space and time. I switched channels waiting for her comments to complete. I also disliked Mia Michaels as a judge. I think she is a good choreographer but her delivery as a judge needs polished and lightened. It is a chore for her to smile. Debbie Allen is great. Can’t wait to see you and Mary dance again. Also can’t wait to see you scream and jump up and down again when u see a good performance.

    11/10/2009 7:17 PM UTC

  4. Rena Davonne - wrote:

    “We’re only making plans for Nigel…”
    Can you please call it for what it is, and stop worrying about ratings!? Because, after all, when you start thinking about people liking you (or your show), you stop attracting those who will pay attention. And you can quote me on that :)
    Rena Davonne

    11/10/2009 10:04 PM UTC

  5. Franny - wrote:

    So You Think You Can Dance was one of my favorite shows until this season. Please resist the urge to become more like American Idol. It seems from the judges comments last night that the show is becoming more about popularity than dance. So many of the comments were about what gets people to call in (storylines, hip-hop, etc.) than about actual skill. Does Legacy really deserve accolades over Ryan because he can perform tricks? Maybe you would like to change the title of the show to So You Think you Can be the Most Improved Dancer. Yes it is inspirational, etc., but what about actual dancing as the benchmark?

    The main reason you are losing me is the new production design. The lights are giving me a migraine and we see less and less of the actual dancing. We can’t tell how the dancers are doing side by side because the camera rarely gives us a front straight shot. It is very hard to make a judgement when you are seeing the routine from very distorted and distracting angles. If you have to stay with this proscenium style stage, give us some shots from the audience so we can see the picture. The lighting effects should be saved for the opening and ending of the number. Please keep the show about the dancers. Stop the move to make it about flashing lights and technical effects.

    I really want to continue watching!

    11/11/2009 9:31 AM UTC

  6. bob - wrote:

    We are avid fans of “So You Think You Can Dance”. We have watched the show mature and the talent grow from season to season. We feel that the quality of contestant has grown to the point that a change in voting should be instituted. The feedback given by the judges is, and will always be, excellent. However, the voting needs to be changed in order to give the contestants a fair vote based on talent and performance and not just “Popularity”. We feel that the panel of judges should be increased to include more of the choreographers and this panel should be voting every week. We further feel that the voting viewer should NOT be eliminated, however, the outcome of the overall vote should be split so that 40% is based on the panel vote and 60% is based on the viewer vote. The winner probably should be called “America’s most talented dancer for season XX”.

    11/11/2009 8:07 PM UTC

  7. PS620 - wrote:

    Well my dear, I hope that saying how adorable Mollie and Nathan are have tought you a lesson, good dancers with podentials had to leave because of those remarks, I whatch the show all the time
    I just don’t have the time for reading all the news (some of us have to work) I waited for a new judge to come on and have been disapointed, I don’t know about Adam, does he drink? I think his cutie remarks about Mollie and Jonathan he should keep to himself, it’s enough when teenagers are voting for such a unprofessional pair he does not have to tell the whole nation it’s okay to vote for inmaturety, okay they do have the potentials maybe in about 2-3 years, but that’s it. Nigel I think you made a mistake in making all these changes.

    11/11/2009 10:54 PM UTC

  8. PS620 - wrote:

    OOOP’S  Nathan

    11/11/2009 11:12 PM UTC

  9. Jeffrey Gonsimatanu - wrote:


    RE. my November 5th message,

    Either I need to thank you for considering my suggestion or things worked it’s way out. Mary Murphy’s screaming is unnecessary and immaterial on her part. Since, I have written my message- I have noticed an improvement in her behavior. On Tuesdays, I only watch the first one hour of the show, since I switch over to Dancing with the Stars Results show at 9PM. When Mary is giving her review, I have muted out the sound, so I do not have to hear her scream.
    Maybe, I am not that good at reading lips- at least in the first hour she did little or no screaming. Keep up the good work, and no more screaming should be done on the show. Starting in two weeks after Dancing with the Stars is over, I should be watching the whole two hours. Hopefully, I do not have to mute the sound when Mary appears with her review. I am not the only one who can not stand the screaming. Maybe, Mary should do some charity work in a hospital where people are screaming when they are in pain. They can not help their screams due to their pain. Mary, can control her screaming.

    11/18/2009 3:14 PM UTC

  10. Maria - wrote:

    I have to agree with most of the comments above. I have loved watching So You Think You Can Dance since season 2, but I believe this season is lacking.
    First, I miss the fact there was a rotating judge. It just brought more diversity and insight of the other judges opinions and criticism. I love Adam but frankly I can get bored of him sometimes. I could care less about Paula because I never got into the whole American Idol thing. Ellen was a good judge in my opinion since she was the comic relief of the night.
    Second, I MISS MIA!!! Her choreography is simply amazing. No one can touch her brilliant mind. Please come back!
    And third, why the new stage??? Seriously! I got the fact for Season 5 the finally they performed in a bigger stage because of the popularity of the show. But not having the old stage is hurting the show in my opinion. The old stage brought familiriaty and intimacy to the show. I loved the stairs and how choreographers incorporated them to the dances.
    I’m all for making changes but I think too many changes have been thrust upon us fans. Please take note of what the fans are saying.

    11/20/2009 4:20 AM UTC

  11. Julie - wrote:

    Enough of Adam!!
    Bring back the rotating judges. We love them.
    Where is Mia Michaels? The show is not the same without her.
    We love the show the way it was; Nigel, Mary & a rotating choreographer.
    Forget about Paula Abdul, Ellen, J Lopez. They are not the show. We miss commentary from Tab & Napoleon, Mia, Debbie Allen, Lil C etc
    Mary, Nigel, Cat… you’re perfect, don’t change.
    Adam… someone needs you backstage, go.

    11/25/2009 1:25 PM UTC

  12. Sally - wrote:

    I love to watch So you think you can dance. I even watch the Canada show as well. I do not like having the same 3 judges each week. The comments and antics are always the same and it has become quite boring. The guest judges added a bit of honesty and changed it up quite a bit. Also, I don’t like where the show is being shown in the big arena. It was much more intimate and personable in the smaller venue and then have the finale in the large arena. Dancers this season are good, but not as good as last season. The Canadians were fantastic last season…..

    11/25/2009 3:21 PM UTC

  13. Yolanda - wrote:


    I would first like to say how much I thoroughly enjoy the show. I didn’t start watching the show until season 5 and when I began I was a little hesitant. But as the show progressed I absolutely couldn’t believe how much I was truly touched and inspired by the dancing. I CAN’T dance a beat to save my life, but I find myself getting chills and sometimes tearing up during some of the routines. Mia Michaels addiction routine and Tyce’s cancer routine to name a couple. But by far my favorite routine was Janine’s routine to if it kills me by jason mraz. I am completely addicted to the show now and don’t delete them from my DVR because I find myself wanting to go back and watch some of the routines time and time again, because I feel like I’m watching them for the first time all over again. For this I would like to thank you!

    I would like to know where Mia is this season. I love every routine she has choreographed and really think the show is missing something without her. I also did like seeing a different judge every week, but I also really like Adam Shankman so I dont think it takes away from the show like some comments I have read.

    I also want to throw in that I never really cared for the broadway routines on the show until last weak. Ryan and Elanore’s routine was absolutely fantastic! and because of them I am excited to watch those routines now!

    So whether you read this or not, I just want to put out there how much this show has inspired and changed my life, and I am not even a dancer. Thank you for all that you guys do!


    12/1/2009 11:58 PM UTC

  14. carol - wrote:

    I also miss Mia Michaels energy as a judge. I miss her, is she ok,
    I saw that she had cut off all her hair and seemed a bit off on a earlier show. I do like the rest of the judges..love Mary’s hot tamale train
    and excitement, same with Adam and Nigel, thanks for bringing true
    entertainment back to tv

    12/3/2009 1:36 PM UTC

  15. So You Think You Can Dance - Nigel Lythgoe’s Mid-Season Reflections - wrote:

    [...] Nigel opened up about Season 6 on a press call just before the season started. Read it. [...]

    12/4/2009 7:57 PM UTC

  16. Jenny - wrote:


    Can someone tell me the song which was playing in the background at the end of the show of episode 3 – the Boston audition, during the Vegas montage. I really love this song!!! and I am going crazy searching for it. Please email me or post if you know who this artist is. Thank you.

    I love this show. I been watching every single season and episode.

    12/8/2009 4:54 AM UTC

  17. Stan - wrote:

    Show is wonderful, but please, tone down Mary’s screaming — even the judges cringe sometimes as she starts yelling. I find I’m turning down the volume on the tv as she starts going. Otherwise, great show.

    12/9/2009 2:43 AM UTC

  18. Tina - wrote:

    I’d like to see more of Mia Michael choreo!

    1/12/2010 5:54 PM UTC

  19. Ken - wrote:

    I, along with myriad others, was repulsed by openly homosexual Adam Shankman’s opening remark that California had done something “decent” by overturning Proposition 8. Know for certain that the pathetically Gay sympathizing Judge responsible for going against the “Will of the People” on this issue should be called to task. The People of the State of California should be up in arms at this stupidity. Adam Shankman wants to be Gay…his right for sure. You don’t see normal people, yes, I said NORMAL PEOPLE, flaunting their intimacy choices. So, Adam, keep your perverted mouth shut. There are lots of our young people watching the show and, your decision to air your deviate lifestyle choice and preferences is not something we as parents and grandparents want, nor need, them to be listening too. Just judge the dancing. I suppose your Fairy Godmother is proud of you and your arrogant mouth but the People of California are not. Actually enjoyed your professional critiques on the show until you just had to step over the line. You’re supposed to be a professional….Act like one!!

    8/5/2010 11:49 AM UTC

  20. Anna - wrote:

    Dear Mr. Nigel,

    I wanted to inform you of my disappointment of not being able to get through to the number for Kent last night. I tried approximately 20 times mostly receiving a busy signal 5 times I got a ring, when it answered I heard that my call was not completed as dialed. I was able to get a ring to Loran’s number twice and was able to vote for her. I wanted to vote for Kent and feel somehow the number was not accurate and believe others may have had the same problem. I am very sorry that I could not vote for Kent. I was able to get through several times last week; I believe something was wrong and that Kent deserved to win the competition. Loran is a great dancer, but Kent was by far superior to her. I hope you offer him a great career, he deserves it. My advice to you sir is to check why I and possibly others were having trouble voting for him. Thank you for your consideration. Respectfully, Anna

    8/12/2010 6:32 PM UTC

  21. Gene Dedmon - wrote:

    This made me smile and hopefully after your last post it will do the same for you:

    Any clod can have the facts, but having an opinion is an art. :)

    8/29/2010 4:22 PM UTC

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