Photo credit: Adam Rose/FOX.
This year's crop of 18-year-old dancers have never known a world without So You Think You Can Dance. When the show started in 2005, they were four and five years old — auditioning for SYTYCD is a dream that many of them probably had for most of their young dance lives.
Season 16 is really feeling that impact, especially with Season 3's Dominic "D-trix" Sandoval sitting on the judges' panel. His presence in the dance industry — as an All-Star, Emmy winner with Quest Crew for America's Best Dance Crew and as a choreographer for The Lab's million-dollar win on Season 2 of World of Dance — is felt through several dance generations.
In Monday night’s episode, dancer Sydney Burtis stepped on the SYTYCD stage and revealed that the Season 3 cast poster was on her bedroom wall. Thousands of young dancers have seen SYTYCD contestants become their role models and make them believe that their turn on the show will one day become a reality.
It's also important that young dancers see former contestants come back as All-Stars. They see that a career in dance is possible with hard work and perseverance. More than one of Season 16's Top 10 cast members — dancers who didn't necessarily perform hip-hop as their main style — mentioned Comfort Fedoke as a source of inspiration to them. Comfort first danced on the show in 2008 and still remains the only contestant to be voted out twice. Over a decade later, she's still an All-Star.
Even the audition rounds demonstrate the importance of SYTYCD's legacy with former contestants coming in to help a contender perform in front of the judges. Season 6's Ryan Di Lello performed with Annie Lyn Sheketoff, Season 14's Kiki Nyemchek auditioned with Sofia Ghavami and Season 15's Magda Fialek danced with Dancing With the Stars troupe member Vlad Kvartin. Their presence in the early rounds cements the history of the show and its cast members.
Viewers even get invested in the dancers who return year after year, hoping to find that this is the season that SYTYCD is reserving a spot for them. Dustin Payne's perseverance over the last few seasons makes him an early favorite for a Top 10 spot, Stephanie Sosa is another returnee who was close to making Season 15 and fans will see tapper Eddie Hoyt return to the stage in an upcoming episode.
These are the stories that grab hold of SYTYCD viewers and the ones who make the annual summer tradition of a dance show even stronger. SYTYCD has found its own voice in modern-day dance history.
Don’t miss Dance Network’s ‘To The Pointe’ interview with ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ judge Laurieann Gibson: