"I wasn't happy with their personalities in their performance, their charisma. I thought technically they were superb, and I'd like to certainly keep that standard -- that level of dancing. But I would like whoever we have this year to bring personality with it, to bring charisma. I'll be trying to instill them into that. But you can never guarantee that they're going to do it... You just can't control that sometimes," Lythgoe told reporters during a Wednesday conference call.
"It depends on them. We never know what we're going to get. Every year we say this is the best year yet... But I don't know what anyone expects us to say. 'God, this is a bad season this year!' or 'Don't watch this show it's horrible.' You don't turn around and say that. All I can say is I do think the standard of technical dancing across five seasons now has grown."
So You Think You Can Dance's sixth season -- the first to air outside Fox's summer schedule -- is currently in the midst of airing its audition episodes, in which Lythgoe said the show's judges try to find performers with personality.
"The biggest thing I look for in any performer -- so I won't just class it as a dancer -- is charisma, without question," he explained. "I don't think technical ability is enough, and it appears from the history of So You Think You Can Dance that I'm right because they haven't always been the best dancers that have won."
Lythgoe said second-season runner-up Travis Wall was "probably a better dancer" than winner Benji Schwimmer, who had a "better personality. He also claimed third-season runner-up Danny Tidwell was "far above anybody that's been on this show" but still finished behind winner Sabra Johnson, and added Brandon Bryant was the fifth-season's "best dancer," only to lose in the finale to Jeanine Mason.
"That's why we also call it America's favorite dancer and not America's best dancer," explained Lythgoe.
Despite So You Think You Can Dance's sixth season finding itself outside of its normal broadcast season, Lythgoe said there aren't any major changes to the format.
"We're hoping to open it out to the fall audience, the ones who are actually sitting there watching television now. We just think the show is ripe in its format. We'll be adding a few more interesting points into the results show, and as you are probably aware, we've announced Adam Shankman is going to be a resident judge," said Lythgoe.
"But other than that, no. The standard of dance is just improving all the time. So hopefully that will be the appeal."
"We were asked by Fox if we would swap. I guess their reasoning is they wanted to lead into Glee and they felt both programs were complimentary to each other. I would have thought they would also want to free-up their summer for other experimental shows. We've got a solid core audience -- or believe we have -- and transferring that into the fall would be good enough."
Since So You Think You Can Dance's sixth season is airing on the heels of its fifth season, Lythgoe said it remains to be seen if the show's seventh installment will air next summer.
"It depends I guess on how successful we are in the fall," he told reporters. "If we do not succeed in the fall, I don't see Fox throwing us away and saying, 'Don't bother coming back in the summer.' I would have thought we'd be placed back in the summer."
"Of course I wouldn't," he said. "But I also would not have liked the alternative, which is not going out until October 2010. I didn't like that alternative either, so I prefer this one. As far as I'm concerned, the more dance we have on television -- I'm happy with that."
"My fear of course is we're going to be ping-ponging around the schedule sort of based around [Fox's Major League Baseball's playoff coverage], and we may get lost in there," he explained. "All we can do is turn out the best shows that we can do and rely on an audience that follows us around the schedule and keep our fingers crossed."
Lythgoe added that to make sure So You Think You Can Dance's sixth season isn't still on the air at Christmas, the show will -- for the first time -- feature six finalists making it to the finale rather than four.
"I know that in our finale we're going to be going with three couples -- six people, three boys and three girls," he explained. "I didn't want to start with a Top 18 or a Top 16. It doesn't make any sense to me. So I thought it would be fun to have six battle it out in the finale."