SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE: What Makes a Good Guest Judge? Nigel Lythgoe, Cat Deeley, Travis Wall, and Tabitha Dumo Weigh In - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE: What Makes a Good Guest Judge? Nigel Lythgoe, Cat Deeley, Travis Wall, and Tabitha Dumo Weigh In

August 13, 2013 by  

SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE changes the judging dynamic a bit every week by adding a guest judge (or judges) to the established panel of Nigel Lythgoe (who is also an executive producer) and Mary Murphy. Sometimes it works (see: Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Christina Applegate, or Anna Kendrick), and others times…not so much.

During the recent Television Critics Association set visit to SYTYCD, I asked the panelists what they thought made a good guest judge for the series…

Nigel Lythgoe: “From my point of view, we are an entertainment show. And we have to be an entertainment show. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be on the air. Dance is a very niche market when you’re doing it in the art side of it, rather than in the celebrity side of it, like DANCING WITH THE STARS. And so we need to bring as many people to the party as possible. And if we bring people on here with a large social following, social network following, we hopefully will bring their fans to it as well, and they’ll enjoy the show. 51 percent is personality on this show, even more than technique or anything else. You will always find that personality wins over technique on this show, generally. I do believe that if they can talk about personality to the dancers, that’s really important, too, as well as technique. It’s just one of those things that I think we have to do to maintain our show.”

Cat Deeley (host): “Well, say, for me, when I’m talking to the judges, I like the fact that Mary and Nigel get technical. I don’t think that the guest judge always has to have a technical background. They can work within show business. They can talk about having that certain something, that certain je ne sais quoi star quality that you can’t quite put your finger on. And they can talk about work ethics. And they can talk about all those different aspects acting within a routine. I think that’s very important. And I think most of all, it’s important for them to be a fan of the show. The best people we’ve had on are the Jesse Tyler Fergusons and the Anna [Kendrick]s. You know, Anna sat in that seat during rehearsal, and she was, like, making notes the whole time. And I was like, ‘You big-ole geek.’ And she’s like, ‘Shush, I’m writing, Cat Deeley. Shush. Shush. Shush.’ And that’s a lovely thing to have. And particularly for the dancers as well. It’s incredibly encouraging to know that these people that have these amazing careers are sitting at home watching, and…uber fans. So that’s really lovely, too. So I think it’s nice to have a different dynamic.”

Travis Wall (former contestant/current choreographer): “They have experience in dance. They know something about dance. You know, sometimes you get the celebrity, and it’s like, oh, it’s great, and then sometimes they get up there and they don’t say anything. [Even] just for them to correct on [a mistake], so a dancer can take something back from it. But sometimes they really know what they’re talking about, and they really can contribute to what [Lythgoe and Murphy] are saying. Or sometimes they just agree with them, like, ‘Yeah, what they said,’ and you’re like, well, you should say something else. And they should know something about dance.”

Tabitha Dumo (part of choreography duo NappyTabs): “I feel like they kind of represent [the audience], and the people who are watching at home as well. It’s almost like we get their opinion. I know when Napoleon and I choreograph a routine, his sister has nothing to do with dance, is not a dancer. If you would see her, she has two left feet, but we always do it for her because we want to hear her opinion, as someone who doesn’t understand the dance. Is it entertaining? Do you understand what we’re saying? So sometimes it’s really good to just hear what someone not in your business can see, you know, because it opens up your mind to kind of tap into something maybe you were overlooking. Because as choreographers, sometimes we get too technical, and we get, ‘Ah, but did you see how his shoulder and his leg was [doing this], and he wasn’t getting down and low?’ They’re, like, ‘No, but did you see that moment? They were really, you know, engaged, and they looked at me.’ You’re like, Oh, that’s what you focused on? Well, it makes you think differently. So it’s good to hear that as well.”

What do you think helps makes a guest judge click?

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