So You Think You Can Dance: Behind The Scenes SecretsPublished on January 23, 2017. Updated June 4, 2020
So You Think You Can Dance was an instant smash hit when it first premiered in 2005 and its success has continued over the years as the show is currently in its fifteenth season. While things may seem pretty straightforward when watching the show, there are plenty of behind the scenes secrets that people don’t know about – here are 8:
8. Age Restrictions
Any dancer that wants to audition for the show must be between the ages of 18 to 30 to register. If any dancers are minors in their state of residence, they must have a parent or guardian sign all documents. When they register for auditions, they also must provide legal, valid proof of age.
7. Show Format
The show is typically divided between the selection process, when the judges select competitors, and the competition phase. Although the selection process is produced over the course of months, it is highly edited and usually constitutes only the first two to four weeks of aired episodes while the competition episodes form the remaining eight to nine weeks of the season.
6. Impressing the Judges
According to former judge Mary Murphy, potential contestants have less than a minute to impress them. “When we first see them, they only get 30 seconds, and it doesn’t matter what kind of dancer you are – Latin dancer, ballet, tap, it won’t matter – you’re going to have to show us your stuff to [our chosen] music. If we like you in those first 30 seconds, then we call you back to see what you do to your own [choice of] music. The good news is [we] don’t change [our] song, so the first 75 kids who are brought into the room all hear it, as we bring 10 up on the stage at a time. Sometimes people don’t even make it through the first line of producers to see us,” she told TV Guide.
5. Vetting Process
To get on the show, potential contestants have to go through a vetting process to see how they react to stress. “There are psych tests and background checks. Because they’re put in this hothouse – it’s like a pressure cooker. You have to know that people can physically and mentally take it, and also for the safety of others around them as well, because they partner with other people,” presenter Cat Deeley told Yahoo.
4. Show Day
The staff generally gets an idea of what the looks and themes for the following week will be one week in advance; however, because things can change really quickly, needing to do last minute substitutions are common. On show day, hair, makeup and costume teams need to get the studio by 5 a.m. to get the dancers ready for their pre-recorded group number, which means they need to be up at about 3:45 a.m. After the group number is done, the next five hours are spent readying the dancers for a show run-through. They get touch-ups at 3:45 p.m. and then they hit the stage by 5 p.m. PST.
Choosing costumes on So You Think You Can Dance can be a bit tricky for costume designers because dancers have to look good on stage and on camera, and whatever they wear also has to function as dancewear. With the show’s new format, the costume team has to come up with 15 to 20 more costumes per show now. Costume designer Marina Toybina also has to stay backstage during the dancers’ performances to make sure double stick tape is in place and to sew any last place any gussets.
2. Wardrobe Malfunctions
Costume designer Soyon An revealed that the female dancers on the show always wear pasties that are also taped down in case of a wardrobe malfunction. “So we have a Plan B and a C just in case because our dancers are above and beyond. They’re doing things that are just incredible. They dance so hard,” she said. To outfit the athletic dancers, she buys clothes off the rack, but sometimes alters them so that they accommodate the dancers’ movement. When she needs to, she also makes costumes from scratch.
1. Time Constraints
The costume designers have to do a lot of work in a short amount of time. As soon as the choreographers figured out their dance concept for the coming week, they give their concepts to costume designer Soyon An, who then goes shopping, does fittings, refittings and alterations. On the Tuesday before show time on Wednesday and Thursday nights, they go through a run through for the show.