“So You Think You Can Dance” Season 18 Kicks Off With a Slew of Changes

March 1, 2024

When the new season of “So You Think You Can Dance” premieres on March 4, it will be with a host of changes both on screen and behind the scenes. Front of mind for many will be the absence of the late Stephen “tWitch” Boss, who served on the judging panel last season after being a beloved competitor and All-Star in previous seasons and whose death was widely speculated to be a factor in the show not returning in its usual summer slot in 2023. Boss’ widow, “SYTYCD” All-Star Allison Holker, joins the new-but-familiar panel of judges for Season 18 alongside Maksim Chmerkovskiy of “Dancing with the Stars” fame and returning Season 17 judge JoJo Siwa. (Siwa replaced Nigel Lythgoe on the panel after the executive producer stepped back from the show following allegations of sexual assault that were filed by Paula Abdul and others.) All-Star Comfort Fedoke also joins the judging panel for auditions. 

The judging panel is not all that’s new. After the auditions round, 10 dancers will compete in challenges intended to reflect a freelance commercial-dance career, such as performing in music videos, football halftime shows, or Broadway numbers—a departure from dancing on a soundstage in short routines of rotating styles, the show’s signature. Rather than audiences voting live for their favorite dancers (filming reportedly began in Atlanta, rather than in Los Angeles as in previous years, in early December), eliminations will be entirely up to the judges.

Perhaps the most eyebrow-raising facet of the show’s new format: While in previous seasons, short, behind-the-scenes packages of rehearsal footage and interviews introduced each routine, this season “viewers will get a documentary-style inside look at the contestants’ dynamics, following them throughout the competition as they go through their personal and competitive journeys, including the daily struggles, new relationships, personality clashes and more,” according to a release. What will the seemingly more “reality TV” angle mean for the dancers on the show, and will the winning competitor’s title still be “America’s Favorite Dancer” with voting seemingly out of the audience’s hands? Fans will have to tune in on Fox (or the day after on Hulu) to find out.