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'So You Think You Can Dance': L.A. auditions this Thursday

March 3, 2008 |  8:34 pm

Dance3_group027422_rlyv2f_2 So, you think you can dance, huh? Well, apparently you’re not the only one. According to Jeff Thacker, senior producer of “So You Think You Can Dance,” 1,200 people auditioned last season in Los Angeles alone. 

Well, it’s that time of year again; this Thursday, professional ballerinas and amateur cloggers alike will line up at The Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles, awaiting their chance to thrill the judges. “You never know what will walk through that door,” Thacker tells me in a phone interview; he has auditioned belly dancers, sword swallowers, and everything in between.

The requirements are few; any 18-30 year old who can work in the U.S. can compete for the $250,000 prize. “We open our doors to everyone,” emphasizes Thacker. Last year, he groans, “it took me thirteen hours to see everybody.”

So here’s how the auditions work: First, each applicant gets thirty seconds to dance to a song chosen by the producers, meaning a ballerina could end up shaking it to Fergie. Survive that challenge, and you get to audition in your dance-style of choice. 

When asked for auditioning tips, Thacker answers, “dress to impress,” and also, “make yourself memorable…We don’t look for America’s best dancer. We’re looking for America’s Favorite Dancer.”

And after three seasons of looking for – and finding – America’s Favorite Dancer, the series is a bona fide stalwart of the dance world. Two choreographers have won Emmys for their work on the "So You Think You Can Dance," and thirteen countries have adopted their own versions of the series. Thacker couldn’t be more excited by the richness these twelve other countries bring to the franchise. “In Turkey, for example, the winner was a male belly dancer!” he exclaims.  “In Australia it is the biggest show on television.”

Which begs the question, who’s watching? “Young girls, young mums,” concedes Thacker, although he points out that plenty of men love the show as well. And although there are countless dance shows to choose from, Thacker thinks “So You Think You Can Dance” is different from the rest. The judges “are a bit more tender” towards the dancers, Thacker explains. Both Thacker and Nigel Lythgoe were dancers and choreographers themselves, so they know what the contestants are going through. “We are constructive, not destructive,” stresses Thacker. 

So, whether you’re a sword-swallower, a belly-dancer, a hip-hopper, or a ballerina, get thee to The Orpheum Theatre this Thursday. The judges will be nice to you – Jeff Thacker said so!  The rest of us will have to wait until May 22, when the show debuts, to join in the fun.

-- Stephanie Lysaght

(photo courtesy of Fox)