The So You Think You Can Dance Season 17 cancellation hurts dance lovers
In July of 2005, a new reality competition premiered on Fox. As you might have guessed by the title of this piece, that series was So You Think You Can Dance. It claimed to be searching for “America’s best dancer,” and—if I’m being perfectly honest here—I never expected it to come close.
I’ve never been more wrong. After initially tuning in for a guilty pleasure and/or something to ridicule, I instantly fell in love. So You Think You Can Dance was different than all the other reality TV; the people behind it, especially series creator Nigel Lythgoe, really cared about dance and had the background necessary to do it justice.
What has happened in the past 15 years and 16 seasons has been nothing short of remarkable. Even with a few missteps here and there—let’s not talk about “Stage Vs. Street,” okay?—the work of countless performers and choreographers has brought the art of dance to people who otherwise wouldn’t have had the access.
In the comfort of our own homes, the series has educated audiences about so many different dance styles, especially contemporary, and touched people in the way that only dance can.
That’s why the news of So You Think You Can Dance Season 17 officially getting the axe hurts so much: For dance lovers everywhere, some of whom wouldn’t have even found their love of the art form without the series, it’s so much more than just another television show.
Losing So You Think You Can Dance Season 17 affects a struggling industry
As Broadway goes dark and performances are canceled across the country, the financial repercussions of a global pandemic have gone from hypothetical to very real. This is especially true in the dance community, where many institutions are nonprofits or small businesses operating on thin margins, and performers rely on gigs that are being canceled. It’s a scary and uncertain time.
In this unprecedented situation, many of us are reeling.
Recently, the legendary Debbie Allen held a dance-a-thon to address this issue. As a surprise to no one who has witnessed their passion for dance, many of So You Think You Can Dance‘s familiar faces, including Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist choreographer Mandy Moore, participated.
When Nigel Lythgoe virtually dropped in via Instagram Live, he pledged to match the donations made by the time of his arrival; but there are some things all the funds in the world might not be able to fix.
Now, without the opportunity to compete on So You Think You Can Dance—without the ability to be visible to millions, including potential employers—the next Broadway star or Emmy winner may never get their big break. Maybe someone who could have been among the next generation of stars, due to bad timing, might never even get that inspiration.
This is, of course, pure speculation. Maybe those dancers who were bound for stardom will still get there—maybe, if life ever returns to whatever qualifies as “normal,” they’ll still get a chance. But there’s no way to know, and in an industry where careers can be cut short due to the tiniest errors, one lost opportunity could mean everything.
Then, there are the dancers and dance-lovers at home, like me. For over a decade, summer has meant the opportunity to watch So You Think You Can Dance, to connect with at least one piece (usually multiple pieces), and truly feel something.
The series has been an outlet for so many, whether they are dancers themselves are not. The impact of experiencing the right performance at the right time can not be put into words.
At a time when the world seems to be falling apart, the chance for an emotional release will be sorely missed. Sure, World of Dance is out there; but it’s more about big tricks than big issues and hasn’t had a particularly great fourth season thus far.
The loss of the reality competition that was never supposed to be anything more than pure entertainment means the absence of so much more. Maybe a casual viewer might find this reaction to Season 17’s cancellation to be a bit overblown.
But for those who felt that special something while watching this series and were looking forward to another summer escape on the hot tamale train, maybe there just aren’t enough words to get it right.
Then again, that’s what the dance was always for anyway. At least there are plenty of moments this series has gifted us over the years to relive while we hope for better news in the future.
What So You Think You Can Dance moment meant the most to you? Share your favorites with us in the comments!