So You Think You Can Dance judge and Executive Producer Nigel Lythgoe gave us his mid-season Dance reflections on a press call this week. With eight dancers remaining and two weeks left in the competition, Nigel assured us that the race to crown America’s Favorite Dancer will be an exciting one.
Nigel said that this season of Dance has had many surprises. “Russell, the Krumper from Boston, is an enormous surprise. I don’t know where he’s getting his lines from and he does a pas de deux, which is just tremendous, and doing pressage lifts and everything else.” In addition, Nigel has been surprised with Legacy Perez’s growth, saying that “Legacy has grown far more than I thought he would. I didn’t think that the boy had any musicality; when I first saw him he was just a tricker.” Nigel also mentioned that Ashleigh and Ryan Di Lello surprised him – “The two ballroom kids are just tremendous.” These aren’t the only surprises of the season. Nigel commented on all of the finalists, “It is always a pleasure to see them be like sponges and try and soak up everything that they can from the choreographers and from the dancers that they’re working with. They truly do, unlike most other programs like this, help each other tremendously with learning and with providing knowledge.”
For the first time in So You Think You Can Dance history, a married couple made the show and both Ashleigh and Ryan Di Lello are still vying for the title of America’s Favorite Dancer in the penultimate week of the show. Nigel said that having a married couple on the show hasn’t been an issue. “Ashleigh and Jakob formed a relationship for pure dance and respect for each other,” Nigel stated. “At the end of the day she’s in competition with her husband and her husband’s in competition with her. They’re extremely professional about it and both of them, I think, have been two of the major dancers that have grown in this production and this season so far. They’re a joy to watch at the moment.”
During last week’s Top 10 performance show, the judges went wild over Jakob Karr and Ellenore Scott’s mastery of Sonya Tayeh’s contemporary choreography. Nigel said that was possibly one of the best routines from this season. He was excited to see Ellenore and Sonya, who “both come from the same planet and probably speak the same language,” bring Jakob down into their world.
One year ago, Nigel stepped down from his position as Executive Producer at American Idol in order to spend more time on Dance. Now, Nigel and company are launching So You Think You Can Dance in the U.K. so he is flying back and forth to work on both shows, all the while running the Dizzy Feet Foundation.
Nigel is excited for the next two weeks that lie ahead. “I think this season has had the most diverse dancers on it. It looks to me, especially after [the Top 10 performance] show, that we’re going in the right direction to produce a really good champion.”
Nigel opened up about Season 6 on a press call just before the season started. Read it.