“I hold my breath every single time I’m on ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ and there’s a routine going on,” says hip-hop choreographer Christopher Scott about working on the FOX reality competition series. “The executive producer calls me a pressure cooker because the pressure just gets so high.” This year the pressure paid off for Scott with his third Emmy nomination for Best Choreography. Watch our exclusive video interview with Scott above.
Scott is nominated for two routines he choreographed last summer for season 14 of the series: “Say You Won’t Let Go,” a duet between “SYTYCD” all-star Allison Holker and contestant Logan Hernandez, and “Prism,” a conceptual group number that is “one of the hardest routines I’ve ever done on the show.” “Prism” was inspired by the idea of “being trained,” and how as human beings navigating the world we’re “much more trained then dogs ever will be.” The dancers certainly had to be well trained since the piece also incorporated challenging prop work: white blocks that demanded even more coordination and synchronization from the performers.
“Say You Won’t Let Go” was also risky in that it was a lyrical hip-hop routine choreographed for a pair of contemporary dancers. Contestants performing in dance styles outside of their comfort zone is the name of the game on “SYTYCD,” but any doubts Scott might have had were allayed once he saw Holker and Hernandez perform it. “I was very proud of the feeling that they gave the audience,” he says, and he appreciated “how much care they put into it. They were really zoned in.”
Choreographing for “SYTYCD” is always a “double-edged sword because we are putting our work out for judgement,” especially since this show shines a spotlight on the choreographers and not just the contestants. That makes it all the more nerve-racking to present your work to a panel of judges and a live national audience. Scott admits that it took him “three or four seasons” to come to terms with that pressure. Now he thinks, “I just have to do a good job and … if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. I’d rather experiment and fail and try to push my style of choreography further and further than play it safe.”
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