‘So You Think You Can Dance’: Chatting with Cat Deeley

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“So You Think You Can Dance,” arguably summer’s best reality TV show, returns to Fox on Thursday, May 21, and its sunny host, Cat Deeley, chatted on a conference call about what goes on behind the scenes and what audiences can expect for Season 5. More excitingly, it was confirmed that auditions for Season 6 begin in Boston on May 28, which means that audiences won’t have to wait an entire year to get their fix of “SYTYCD” after this season wraps up.

On rumors of Cat departing the show after this season: I haven’t even heard of these rumors! I am more than happy doing the show and feel very passionate about it. I’m doing both Season 5 and Season 6.


On whether she could judge the show: I don’t have the technical ability to be a judge, but I can identify star quality. Someone will come on the stage and you don’t know why but you just can’t take your eyes off them. If there’s a particular piece of choreography I can appreciate it, but I can’t tell you the technicalities. I can tell when something’s magical and wonderful but I can’t tell you why.

Advice for those who are auditioning: Prepare your audition and be great at what you do and have confidence. They have to bring their personality. Dance is the narrative that runs through the show but the audience connects with the human element: they want to know people’s stories and trials and tribulations. That’s what people really identify with. If you’re a funny guy, bring your humor. If you’ve got an incredibly courageous story, tell us about it. Don’t hold back. We want to know everything about you. We don’t want you to suddenly give us your personality six weeks into the show and you’ve missed the boat. It’s about making yourself as accessible to the American public as possible. That’s what the judges are looking for: that star quality and personality. Don’t hide it: bring it!

The most challenging part of being the host: Without a shadow of a doubt it’s Thursdays and saying goodbye to people. I hate it. I get so close to the dancers: I see things that even the audience at home doesn’t see. It’s just a nightmare. The makeup artist tells me, “OK, the waterproof mascara is going on today and you had better not cry because if you come off looking like a member of KISS I am going to kick your a**!”

On whether there is behind-the-scenes drama on the show: What we put the dancers through is so difficult. We do two shows a week, sometimes they’re learning two different routines, they’re being paired with different partners. They have to form this chemistry together instantaneously. When I started I thought it would be incredibly competitive and cutthroat but in actual fact there is a complete sense of camaraderie. When we get to the studio, nobody knows what they’re going through as much as they do. When they have to see someone go home each week, it’s not the nicest thing in the world because they become so attached to each other. They’re team players and that’s what you see behind the scenes.

How she’d rate her dance skills: Terrible. If I started dancing people would start to bleed from the eyes.

On losing the Emmy award last year for best reality TV show host: I’ll get that Ryan Seacrest, if it’s the last thing I do! [Ed: Jeff Probst won the Emmy, although that should not negate Deeley’s desire to get Seacrest].

-- Claire Zulkey

Photo: Fox