Like many other reality shows that have been fortunate enough to survive more than a decade, "So You Think You Can Dance" has tried various things over the years to help boost its flagging ratings. For its current season, the show's 12th, 'SYTYCD' made its most bold move yet: adding two new (and more famous) judges, Paula Abdul and Jason Derulo, as well as a new twist to the show's format: Stage vs. Street, which pits skilled hip-hop performers against more classically trained contestants. In fact, the only familiar elements that remain this year are the show's executive producer and head judge, Nigel Lythgoe, and its much adored host, Cat Deeley.
At first the changes sounded exciting, but has the format worked? In my opinion, no.
Although I have no qualms with the change in the judging panel (I've never paid much attention to the judges on this show), pitting stage dancers against street performers doesn't feel right to me.
"SYTYCD" is unique among TV dance competitions. "Dancing With the Stars" has always been predominantly ballroom, and nobody expects its amateur celeb contestants to be great. And there are other shows like MTV's "America's Best Dance Crew" that showcase hip-hop at its most exciting and raw. "SYTYCD" has never been like those shows and shouldn't try to be; they've always had the most talented dancers and choreographers on television. But this season feels like they've watered everything down in their attempt to spice it up.
My biggest issue with the early rounds was the lopsided performances. While some dancers were paired as usual on "SYTYCD," others were in groups of three or four, limiting their exposure and ability to attract new fans at a crucial time in the competition.
My other concern this season is the quick demise of the male dancers – four out of the first six eliminated contestants have been men; will that limit future dances? Will ballroom styles still be possible, or have they gone completely out the window at this point?
One of the most recent eliminations was the much overdue ouster of b-boy Asaf Goren, whose shaky performances suggest that Team Street must have struggled just to fill its 10-team-member quota. But while his elimination was more than welcome, it has left an imbalance: only two male dancers are left on Team Street to its five female dancers.
Meanwhile, over on Team Stage, there are three men and four women left. Of those men, Derek Piquette is injured and could potentially go home next, while only one other man, Jim Nowakowski, has made any real impact with viewers.
It's possible things will even out on Monday night when four dancers will be eliminated instead of just two, but I can't help but worry that a superior female dancer will be eliminated soon to maintain gender parity – something that wasn't an issue in the past when men and women were eliminated equally, which allowed more variety of dance styles to be displayed on a show that has always brought all types of dance to the viewers.
In the latest episode, all contestants were in pairs just like in previous years of "SYTYCD." Will this be how they move forward? And if so, did this new format really make an impact, or was it just a failed gimmick?
What do you think? Was "Stage vs. Street" a good idea or a big mistake? Vote in our poll below, then use our drag-and-drop menu to predict who you think will go home in next week's show.
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Which STREET dancer will be in the bottom but safe?
Who will win 'So You Think You Can Dance'?
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Which dancers do you like (and dislike) the most? Are you on Team Stage or Team Street? Sound off in the comments section below, and join the discussion in Gold Derby's reality TV forum.