It’s impossible to picture Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance without its host, Cat Deeley. The reality dance competition series entered its 16th season last summer, and Deeley’s formidable presence was as welcome as ever. She’s something of a mother hen for the dancers in competition. She understands the stress they’re all under, and as great hosts do, she tries to ease their nerves while keeping the show flowing. The Television Academy responded in kind with five Primetime Emmy nominations for Outstanding Reality Host.
Here, Deeley talks to Awards Daily about her 15th season as host of So You Think You Can Dance. She reveals how she’s keeping things fresh and what moments of Season 16 were her favorite.
Awards Daily: You’ve hosted 15 seasons of So You Think You Can Dance. How are you keeping things fresh not only for the audience but yourself as well?
CD: I look forward to hosting this show every year. The combination of amazing new dancers, incredible new work from our choreographers and the interpretation of those routines by our creative team just fills me with anticipation and excitement.
AD: How do you describe the duties of a reality competition host? Help our readers understand what goes on in front of and behind the camera.
CD: My role is to engage the audience at home even if they are not dancers and don’t know all the technical language. It’s my job to be the voice for everyone at home and live in the studio. I can question the judge, and if I don’t understand certain dance terminology, chances are 80 percent of the audience won’t understand it either.
But most importantly I have to be support for the dancers. I am their biggest fan! It’s my job to tell their stories, nurture them and bring out the best in them. Sometimes that is no more than a hug, if that is what is required!
AD: Are you involved in the early screenings for potential dancers?
CD: Absolutely. When we hold auditions, I will walk down the line meeting potential contestants. At this point I have no idea if they can dance or not, but there is something special about certain people that makes them stand out from the crowd. It’s usually indefinable. They just have a little magic and above all star quality. I talk to the producers and let them know the people I like. Then I just keep my fingers crossed and hope they can dance.
Before we announce the Top 20, we always have a big meeting when we discuss all aspects of the dancers. It’s not just about talent. Personality also plays a big role.
AD: What were some of your personal favorite performances over Season 16?
CD: A stand out performance for me was the “Gun Control” piece by Travis Wall. I actually just re-watched it, and the hairs on my arms still stand up. I have chills just within the first few bars of music. When a piece can physically move you like this, it’s an incredible work of art. This piece, for me sums up what SYTYCD is all about. Every member of the team produces their best work, and then when they deliver the final message, ‘Enough,’ it is indescribably powerful.
AD: The creative team of judges and choreographers come across to viewers as one giant family, but is there a particular choreographer whose style really appeals to you?
CD: We have an incredible team of choreographers who work on the show. It is impossible to pick one whose work stands out more than any others. But Travis was a past contestant on the show and is now a world renowned, Emmy-winning choreographer! He’s come full circle and still enjoys coming back. SYTYCD opened doors for him, and he seized the opportunity. We are incredibly proud of him, and I love the fact we are an integral part of his adventure.
AD: Bailey Muñoz became the first b-boy to win SYTYCD. What impact do you think that has on the series and on future contestants?
CD: SYTYCD has always embraced all different styles, genres, people, and religions. We are truly demographic and celebrate diversity. Bailey is an incredible dancer and could turn his hand to any style, something that is quite unusual for a b-boy. But most importantly, he had star quality. He charmed the audience week after week with his humor, sense of fun, and sheer determination and hard work. He also formed the perfect partnership with Mariah. They were a team, each one supporting each other to the very end. He was honest and open and our audience happily fell madly in love with him.