‘So You Think You Can Dance’ returns for Season 17: Could Oscar nominee Ariana DeBose replace Nigel Lythgoe as judge?

Three years after its last season aired, FOX has officially announced “So You Think You Can Dance” will return for Season 17 this summer. The reality TV dance competition was put on pause during the COVID-19 pandemic and many fans were left wondering if the show would ever return. There has been no official announcement if host Cat Deely or judges Mary Murphy and Laurieann Gibson will come back, but one thing is certain: Co-creator and original judge Nigel Lythgoe is out.

“I am so thrilled that America’s young aspiring dance talent will get to work with some of our greatest creative choreographers,” Lythgoe wrote in a statement. “On a personally sad note, I have not been asked to be on the judging panel this season. I don’t know who will be saying ‘Cue Music’ but I wish them well.”

SEE Ariana DeBose on making Anita her own in Steven Spielberg’s ‘West Side Story’

The series has launched successful careers for many dancers, actors and entertainers since it began in 2005. Most notable this year is Oscar nominee Ariana DeBose, the triple-threat who plays Anita in Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story.” The “SYTYCD” alum has already picked up a SAG Award for the role and leads our Oscar odds to take home a statuette at the 94th Academy Awards on March 27. DeBose finished among the Top 20 on Season 6 of “SYTYCD.”

Could DeBose’s recent success have “SYTYCD” producers begging for her to return as a judge? She wouldn’t be the first non-winner to come back and take a seat on the judging panel. Stephen “tWitch” Boss and Dominic “D-Trix” Sandoval have both returned as judges after rising to fame following their “SYTYCD” losses. Other big-name celebrities such as singer Jason Derulo and actress Vanessa Hudgens have also been part of the rotating judges’ panel throughout the years.

Season 17 initially got the green light in 2020, but they weren’t able to produce the show safely. A Fox rep said at the time, “While we were looking forward to its return this summer, we cannot meet the standards we’ve set for viewers and contestants in light of the show’s unique format, intricate production schedule and limited time.”

According to the FOX website, auditions for “SYTYCD” kick off in March. Selected dancers will be invited to attend auditions in New York, Los Angeles and New Orleans. From those auditions, the dancers selected will be invited to Los Angeles to perform for the judges and try to win a spot as one of the final contestants.

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