So you think you can dance season 17 logo

What You Need to Know About ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ Season 17

The pandemic disrupted many dance-related events, shows, and programming. Broadway went completely dark for the longest time in history, ballet was practiced in tiny living rooms, many awards shows were postponed or canceled, and bustling film sets were few and far between, especially at the beginning of the pandemic. The world has since filled those sets, stages and awards shows— with modifications, of course— with highly skilled dancers, actors, and performers grateful to be back.

However, the pandemic left another dance-shaped hole in the world, one so iconic that nothing has been able to fill its place in its absence. The hit dance competition So You Think You Can Dance has not graced our television screens since the summer of 2019, but it returns in all of its glory with a premiere date of Wednesday, May 18.

In the new season, you can expect to see new faces, old faces in new roles, and the return of the original host, Cat Deeley!

The Judges

If you’ve competed in a dance competition before, you know just how important the role of the judging panel is. For better or for worse, their opinion matters a lot. Even though the audience vote has historically been a huge part of the show, the judges shape the experience for everyone involved, and that does not just mean for the viewers at home! 

Matthew Morrison

Mathew Morrison headshot in front of brown background.

You may know new judge Matthew Morrison as Will Schuester from his time on the hit musical show Glee. Morrison originated the role of Link Larkin in Hairspray on Broadway and has been in several other Broadway and Off-Broadway productions including performing as J. M. Barrie in Finding Neverland. 

Most recently, he acted as a dance captain on BBC One’s dance competition The Greatest Dancer. Produced by Simon Cowell, the dance competition was open to dance acts of any number and to any dancer over 7 years old. 


headshot of twitch at CLI Studios in front of blue background with hands around mouth like he's yelling

SYTYCD alum and CLI Studios co-founder tWitch is joining the judging panel for the very first time! First appearing on the show in season four, tWitch placed as a runner-up to hip-hop dancer Joshua Allen, but would then return as an All-Star for seasons 7, 8, and 9.

tWitch is now a choreographer, actor, producer, and media personality known for his role on the Ellen DeGeneres Show which he would eventually Co-Executive produce. He continues to dance and teach in various ways, including teaching entire grooves courses for CLI Studios.

JoJo Siwa

JoJo Siwa in concert onstage in colorful outfit.

JoJo is no stranger to the camera. First rising to fame on the reality show Dance Moms, she has since branched out into singing, merchandising, and was a part of the first same-sex dancing partnership in Dancing With the Stars history (they placed second!)

She is known for her bubbly personality, and until most recently, her trademark bow and side-pony combo. She was recently named one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People, and she brings a young yet impressively diversified perspective to the judge’s table (she’ll be turning 19 the day after the premiere!)

The Format 

The show’s first few seasons had more or less the same format, and much of that has stayed the same. There are several auditions hosted around the country, oftentimes in Los Angeles and New York City, where a preliminary panel of judges auditions dancers hoping to be crowned America’s Favorite Dancer. If the judges think they might have what it takes, contestants are given a “golden ticket” which grants them access to what is commonly known as Vegas Week or Academy Week. This is the first round of callbacks for the show. From there, dancers engage in a strenuous week of classes across various dance styles and are chosen from several rounds of choreography.

The live portion of the show will include a Top 10-20 depending on if the season has welcomed back All-Star performers or not. Starting in Season 7, the show introduced All-Stars: well-loved dancers from past seasons who perform with the current contestants, but who are not competing. All-Stars sometimes choreograph as well. They’re typically introduced for a few episodes but do not stay the entire season.

What Else is New?

Well… we’re not sure! Looking back at all the seasons of SYTYCD, the show has definitely evolved since its original premiere in 2005. Will the return of Cat Deeley as the host mean they will stick to the show’s original format? Or, do the new judges mean more changes are around the corner? You’ll have to tune in to find out for sure. 

Until then, there is no shortage of “Best So You Think You Can Dance” YouTube playlists to tide you over. 

Dance with SYTYCD Alum!

CLI Studios SYTYCD collection thumbnail

America might only crown one favorite dancer per season, but if the introduction of the All-Stars proves anything, it’s that sometimes one season isn’t enough with the talented dancers involved in the show.

Thankfully, many of the dancers involved continue to go on to perform and teach around the country and around the world (keep that in mind if your favorite dancer gets voted off too early this season!) Many former SYTYCD contestants are teachers at CLI Studios, including All-Star Kathryn McCormick, new judge tWitch, the ever beloved Allison Holker, and choreographer and Vegas Week judge Tyce Diorio!


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