The Latest: News of Note

April 30, 2015

A street dancer at the “SYTYCD” NYC audition. Photo by Jeffrey Neira, Courtesy FOX.


“SYTYCD” Shake-Up

Major changes are in store for Season 12.

Another installment of FOX’s “So You Think You Can Dance” will premiere on June 1, and the show is promising a departure from former seasons. In its new “Stage vs. Street” format, contemporary, jazz, ballet and tap dancers will be pinned against street dancers. Executive producer Nigel Lythgoe admits this is partly a strategy to keep the show on air for many more seasons. But he is also excited about the talent it may attract. “We lost a lot of people last season who I liked, like animator Jaja Vankova and popper ‘Mary Poppins’ Bonnevay, because they couldn’t pick up choreography in other styles,” says Lythgoe.

This year, dancers who make it to callbacks will audition only in their designated stage or street category. Ten stage dancers and ten street dancers will be chosen for the Top 20. Then, Lythgoe says, producers plan to play with the format, like placing dancers in groups and having them perform styles other than their own. A dancer from each side will be eliminated every week until one is crowned “America’s Favorite Dancer.”

Another big change is that “SYTYCD” is cutting back on ballroom dance, an effort to help differentiate the show from competitor “Dancing with the Stars.” Ballroom expert Mary Murphy, who has been a judge since Season 1, has been replaced by Paula Abdul, a regular judge on “So You Think You Can Dance Australia,” and Jason Derulo, who was a guest judge last season. Cat Deeley will remain as host, and Lythgoe says that viewers can still expect appearances from All-Stars and celebrity judges, as well as guest performances from industry professionals.

This isn’t the first time the show has changed its format. Season 7 introduced the return of old contestants as All-Stars, and the show crowned two winners in Seasons 9 and 10. “We were becoming very formulaic, so we needed a change,” says Lythgoe. “But I certainly don’t want to alter the DNA and integrity of the show. Most importantly, we want to keep up the same standards of really good dancing.” —Rachel Zar

A Diamond Anniversary

American Ballet Theatre opens its 75th season this month at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. And on May 15, PBS will celebrate with a new Ric Burns documentary, part of the network’s award-winning “American Masters” series. The program will chronicle ABT’s journey, from humble beginnings to international acclaim, with current and archival footage of interviews, rehearsals and performances. That means we’ll see everyone from contemporaries Hee Seo, Herman Cornejo and Alexei Ratmansky to luminaries Alicia Alonso, Twyla Tharp and Mikhail Baryshnikov. Check for local times. —Kristin Schwab

Alicia Alonso in
Swan Lake. Photo Courtesy WNET.


News of Note

Comings & Goings

Wayne McGregor
and his company will open an arts space in 2016. Studio Wayne McGregor will be located at Here East in London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. ■ Pennsylvania Ballet principal Zachary Hench retired in March. He will continue in his role as ballet master. Oksana Maslova, formerly of Grand Rapids Ballet, has joined as a soloist. Former Barcelona Ballet dancer Russell Ducker has joined the corps.

Awards & Honors

The Juilliard School will give Suzanne Farrell an honorary doctorate on May 22. ■ Steven Reker has received American Dance Institute’s 2015 Solange MacArthur Award for New Choreography, with $10,000 in commissioning funds and development support. ■ Garrett Smith has won Milwaukee Ballet’s Genesis: International Choreographic Competition. He will create a work for the company next season. ■ Lincoln Center has given its 2015 Martin E. Segal Awards to 11 artists, including dancers Silas Farley and Claire Kretzschmar, of New York City Ballet, and School of American Ballet’s Alec Knight. ■ Ameri­can dancer Julian MacKay is a 2015 winner of the Prix de Lausanne.


From top: Russell Ducker, Photo by Alexander Iziliaev, Courtesy PA Ballet; Suzanne Farrell, Photo by Paul Kolnik, Courtesy Juilliard; Steven Reker. Courtesy Reker; Garrett Smith, Courtesy Milwaukee Ballet