Cat Deeley dishes on 'So You Think You Can Dance's fifth season
By Christopher Rocchio, 05/20/2009
From crumpers and poppers to ballerinas and ballroomers, Cat Deeley feels that all types of dancers are welcome on So You Think You Can Dance.
"We like to celebrate people from all different races, religions, backgrounds, colors, creeds. 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," the So You Think You Can Dance host told reporters during a recent conference call.
"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."
So You Think You Can Dance's fifth season will premiere with a two-hour broadcast on Thursday, May 21 at 8PM ET/PT on Fox. Similar to the way she touted last summer's fourth season, Deeley said there isn't much different for the fifth season except that it's bigger and better than past editions.
"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," she explained.
"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."
In addition, Deeley said "because the show comes back bigger every single year, the dancers are elevated to an even higher position once the show finishes" -- which is evident in the fact that former second-season finalist Dmitry Chaplin, third-season finalist Lacey Schwimmer and fourth-season finalist Chelsie Hightower all served as Dancing with the Stars professionals during the show's recently concluded airing eighth season.
"We've had Lacey and Dmitry and Chelsie, there is a career after the show, I think, which is what people are really, really seeing now," Deeley told reporters, adding the subsequent success isn't limited to Dancing with the Stars.
"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."
Deeley has hosted So You Think You Can Dance since the show's Summer 2006 second season and said one of the things she's learned is that despite the opportunities up for grabs for the finalists, there is actually a great sense of camaraderie among them.
"When I first started the show, I thought it would be incredibly competitive between all the dancers, particularly when they're lining up to do their auditions or whatever, I thought it would be really kind of cutthroat and highly competitive," she explained.
"But in actual fact there is a complete sense of camaraderie between them all, because when we get to the studio, nobody understands what they're going through, the emotional and physical pressures on them as much as they do each other. So, they can tell their families, they can tell their friends, they can try and express how they're feeling. When they have to see someone go home every week, it's not the nicest feeling in the world, because they automatically become so attached to each other. They're taking ordinary people and putting them in this extraordinary situation."
More ordinary people have the chance to be put in extraordinary situations this fall, because -- for the first time in the show's history -- Fox will air a So You Think You Can edition in the fall as part of the network's 2009-2010 primetime programming schedule.
"It means that the show is so popular and Fox is 100% behind it, and it's great," said Deeley. "I don't have the exact premiere dates, but I do know that we're auditioning in Boston on May 28th for the next season."
With another round of auditions on the horizon, Deeley said potential contestants have come to understand what producers are looking for: personality.
"With our show, dance is the narrative that runs through the show, but the thing that all the audience connect 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," she explained.
"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."
In addition, Deeley said So You Think You CanDance's judging panel is also interested in seeing personality right from the start.
"They're looking for that star quality," she said. "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."
Similar to the way it appeals to a variety of dancers, Deeley said the reason why So You Think You Can Dance is so successful is because it appeals to a wide audience.
"We're looking at producing family entertainment, particularly in the current economic crisis we're in, it's kind of great that you can sit down as an entire family and sit on the couch and everybody can enjoy the show," she explained.
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