Q&A: So You Think You Can Dance Co-Creator Nigel Lythgoe
July 23, 2013 | by JASMIN ROSEMBERG | People & Parties
|Executive producer, co-creator, and judge of So You Think You Can Dance, Nigel Lythgoe, has organized a charity gala for his Dizzy Feet Foundation on National Dance Day, July 27.|
A born dancer, Lancashire, England-native Nigel Lythgoe took up tap at the age of 11, has boogied beside legends Gene Kelly and Bing Crosby, and was commissioned to choreograph for her Majesty the Queen and the Muppets. The reality mastermind behind the UK’s Pop Idol and later, American Idol, Lythgoe co-created FOX’s So You Think You Can Dance in 2005 and is now executive producer and judge on the Emmy-nominated show.
We spoke with the industry veteran about season 10’s competition, how he instated National Dance Day, and the July 27 gala for his Dizzy Feet Foundation, which he started with Adam Shankman, Carrie Ann Inaba, and Katie Holmes in 2009 to support dance education.
What’s new about SYTYCD Season 10?
NIGEL LYTHGOE: We always try to introduce new choreographers, and we’re doing the animation [dance style] again, which came as a huge shock to us last year. We had Chehon Wespi-Tschopp, a formally trained ballet dancer, and Cyrus Spencer, who trained himself in animation, as the final two guys. I think that we’re seeing the formally trained world and the untrained world helping each other, and dance is the winner in this competition between the two elements.
What are your favorite moments from the show so far this season?
NL: I love the opening routines, and we had a great tap routine on the “Meet the Top 20” show. I loved our bellboy routine that Amy Yakima and Fik-Shun did, choreographed by Napoleon and Tabitha D’umo, who also did a routine to Herb Alpert’s “Puttin’ on the Ritz.” And the combination of Chris Scott and Sonya Tayeh recently was amazing.
How did you get the idea to start National Dance Day, July 27?
NL: I was in bed watching breakfast television, and they were talking about how an enormous percentage of kids in America were obese. And I thought how the most enjoyable way I know of exercising is to dance. So [I thought] we could create a day where everyone’s going to come together, like a marathon run, and dance for charities. I went to Congress and got the last Saturday every July classed as National Dance Day.
What’s going to happen in LA on July 27?
NL: In Grand Park at 10 am, Adam Shankman and Nappytabs are doing choreography that you can learn at dizzyfeetfoundation.org. At the Dizzy Feet Foundation’s evening gala, we’re honoring Chita Rivera, Erik Feig, who did the Step Up movies, and Arthur Mitchell, who created the Dance Theatre of Harlem. Plus we’ve got the San Francisco ballet, LA Ballet, Stacey Tookey’s company, Travis Wall’s company, SYTYCD dancers, Paula Abdul, Christina Applegate, and more.
What other ideas and initiatives do you have in mind for the dance community?
NL: I would love to see families come together. They do a wonderful thing in Eastern Europe where moms dance with their babies, like a huge Busby Berkeley number. There’s a ballet competition in NY called Youth America Grand Prix, where every ballet company around the world comes to look at these dancers, like a football draft. I want to shoot that and make a series of it. And I’d love to see everybody feel as though they can get up and dance and not be embarrassed by it.
The Dizzy Feet Foundation’s “Celebration of Dance” Gala will take place on National Dance Day this Saturday, July 27, at the Los Angeles Music Center’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. To purchase general tickets, VIP supper tickets, or tables, visit musiccenter.org.
So You Think You Can Dance airs every Tuesday at 8/7C on FOX.
Cover shoot: September 2014 issue of Los Angeles Confidential magazine.