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Cat Deeley talks So You Think You Can Dance

Cat Deeley shares insight into the new So You Think You Can Dance season premiering May 21. As Dancing with the Stars signs off for summer, America’s true favorite dance show makes its debut.

Cat in last year's So You Think You Can Dance finaleDeeley is knee-deep in the audition process of So You Think You Can Dance’s yearly search for America’s Favorite Dancer. The show has become a summer institution and now, as Dancing with the Stars did before it, the show will also air a fall season.

Speaking of Dancing with the Stars, witnessing their recent season it was impossible to miss the So You Think You Can Dance alumni. Final four dancer Chelsie Hightower made it to SYTYCD finals. Lacey Schwimmer — who paired with Steve-O — also graduated from the SYTYCD school of dance.

In the middle of the dancing circus is the hostess who possesses class and elegance in spades, Cat Deeley. Deeley’s admits her dancing is “terrible” and only fuels her amazement at the dance wonders that inhabit the stage each week.

So You Think You Can Dance premieres May 21 on Fox at 8 pm. It is one of summer TV’s can’t misses!

Deeley dishes Dance

SheKnows: So You Think You Can Dance could not be more universal…

Cat Deeley: That’s what we like to celebrate. We like to celebrate people from all different races, religions, backgrounds, colors, creeds. You know, that’s the whole idea of the show, is that anybody from any background at all with any training can come on the show, and as long as they’ve got the talent and passion and they’re prepared to work hard, and also show their personality, of course, they are more than welcome to be on the show. We’re looking for stars. We’re not necessarily looking for a certain body type or a certain style or anything like that. We’re looking for America’s favorite dancer, which doesn’t necessarily mean the best. I’m certainly not asking people to fit in certain boxes. We’re not asking people to fit in certain molds. We’re kind of all-encompassing. We want people who the American public are going to identify with and are going to pick up the phone and vote for, and that’s what’s so special about our show.

SheKnows: What genre of dance, when you first saw it on the show, truly blew your mind?

Cat Deeley: You know what got me the very, very first time I saw it was Crumping. It was absolutely incredible. It’s almost like fighting and sparring, and there’s so much kind of pent-up aggression to it, but it’s in the form of dance, which I just think is incredible, you know, that real energy. So, since then, we’ve had other people on the show perform the dance by themselves, and I remember from last season, it was Twitch and Kerrington. They did an amazing routine, and it was so different. I mean, Kerrington was kind of a contemporary dancer, and normally it’s all about lines and elegance and flowing, and this was hard-hitting and tough and street, and it’s great to see people take on different styles like that and really own them. I think that’s what’s so interesting about our show, you know, we do take a street dancer or a breaker and we go what you do is absolutely amazing, your specialty is incredible, but now we’re going to put you in a sparkly shirt and some tight, black pants, and you’re going to have to perform a salsa. I mean, it’s interesting to watch, because some really step up to the plate and really go for it and kind of slick back their hair. I talk to them at the end of it, and they go, “I would never in a million years have thought I could do a waltz or a salsa or a Paso Doble, but I bloody enjoyed it,” you know? So, that’s the really interesting developments in the show.

A dancer from the SYTYCD premiere

SheKnows: I heard that So You Think You Can Dance is following in Dancing with the Stars footsteps and making the leap from summer to fall programming. Is that true?

Cat Deeley: We have been given Season 6 dates already, and they’re almost directly following Season 5, which is just great, you know? It means that the show is so popular and Fox is 100 percent behind it, and it’s great.

Cat Deeley, host of So You Think You Can Dance


SheKnows: The most enjoyable aspect of the show for you as hostess?

Cat Deeley: The best part of the show for me is seeing the grace and being involved in it in a very kind of organic way. If the kids are lining up on the street when it’s 7:30 in the morning and the snow’s coming down in New York and so am I, and it’s really interesting to follow their journey and see how they grow and see they do transition into these kind of stars that are incredibly professional and know what they’re doing. It’s a real growth, and to be part of that is actually really, really mesmerizing to watch.

SheKnows: The Bollywood number during last year’s show was a highlight. Any other genres of dance America’s going to learn about this summer on So You Think You Can Dance?

Cat Deeley: Actually, we’d like to embrace all different types of choreography and styles and nationalities. To be honest, the Bollywood choreography was such a huge success, and actually what we…kind of a universal world at the moment, we do have all these different cultures available to us and all these different art forms and we absolutely should embrace it. I know that Nigel is very adamant that we should bring these new styles to the show and put them in people’s homes where they wouldn’t normally have their eyes opened up to it. So, to give them something new, whether they’d like it or whether they’d hate it is great, just to have people slightly educated and to have an opinion about it is brilliant.

SheKnows: What advice do you give the dancers as they audition when the camera’s off?

Cat Deeley: I think actually now we’re about to embark on Season 5, we’re heading into Season 6, I think the dancers have realized as well that they have to bring their personality. With our show, dance is the narrative that runs through the show, but the thing that all the audience connects with is the human element to the show. They want to know people’s stories. They want to know people’s trials and tribulations and successes and failures, because that’s what people really identify with. If you’re a funny guy, bring your humor, you know? If you’ve got an incredibly courageous story, then tell us about it. Don’t hold back. We want to know everything about you. We don’t want to do a thing where all of a sudden you turn around and you suddenly give us your personality when we’re six weeks into the show, and by that point the audience has identified with certain characters and not with others and you’ve kind of missed the boat because people aren’t voting for you. It’s all about making yourself as accessible to the American public as possible, because they’re the guys who are going to get off their sofas and pick up the phone and vote for you. That’s what the judges are looking for. They’re looking for that star quality. They’re looking for the personality. They’re looking for people who can be stars, so don’t hide it. Bring it and show us the all, you know?

SheKnows: It is an utter delight every summer that you guys come back, and I’m thrilled to hear that you are coming to fall and mirroring in many ways the success of Dancing with The Stars. They kind of splurged on the scene that way. I also wondered if you’ve seen any reaction or response or you felt any difference to the auditions this year because of the success that Chelsea had on Dancing with The Stars this year, making the final four.

Cat Deeley excels as SYTYCD's hostCat Deeley: Do you know what? I think just in general every year it seems to get bigger and better. Everybody always says to me, “What’s different about the show this year? What’s different?” And I’m always kind of like it’s the same show you know and love, but back bigger and better. The stunts are bigger. The choreography is more impressive. But all these different things happen in the show, and that’s great, and I think that’s what people really appreciate. Therefore, because the show comes back bigger every single year, the dancers are elevated to an even higher position once the show finishes, you know. It’s not just people who were on TV that are on, say, Dancing with The Stars. I mean, on Dancing with the Stars we’ve had Lacey and Dmitry and Chelsea, there is a career after the show, I think, which is what people are really, really seeing now. Even if it’s not on another TV show, it could be that somebody like Mariah Carey rings up or Avril Lavigne, and goes, “Okay, we’d love you to come on tour. We’d love you to be a featured dancer.” Some of them even become backing vocalists as well, and it’s kind of that real sense of adventure and this could lead anywhere. The world is my oyster. So, I don’t think it’s just down to the one particular show. I don’t think it’s just down to Chelsea or just down to Dancing with The Stars, but as So You Think You Can Dance gets bigger, I think people realize that the opportunities grow, too, and they’re opportunities that don’t very often come along for them. But like I said before, normally they’re backup guys, they’re the team players that aren’t necessarily in the spotlight themselves, so if we can elevate them to that position and they can go on to have a phenomenal career after this, that’s amazing. It’s genie-in-the-lamp time.


SheKnows: What is the most difficult aspect of hosting So You Think You Can Dance?

Cat Deeley: The most challenging part, without a shadow of a doubt, is Thursdays when I and say goodbye to people. I hate it, because my whole thing with the show is that I get so close to the dancers. I see them every single week. I see how they grow. I go through rehearsals with them. I see things that even the audience at home doesn’t get to see, you know, I see when they’re really tired. I see something’s going on with their family. I see if they’ve got some kind of injury. I’m also part of their journeys right from the very start. Like I said before, as they’re lining up outside the theater to do their auditions and nervous and they’re scared, I see them then. I see them grow to be the stars that they are and performing in the way that they do. I also see how the audience in the studio reacts to them and this amazing buzz they get. So, to me, to say goodbye to one of them every single Thursday is just a nightmare. My makeup artist is always like, “Okay, the waterproof mascara is going on today, and, by the way, do not cry, girl, because if you come off looking like a member of KISS, I am going to kick your ass.” So, that’s always, always, always my hardest thing.

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