It's difficult enough to put into words exactly how a pirouette moves you, or how a pop-and-lock can change your perception of dance, let alone doing so while sandwiched between the unique judging stylings of Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy. Perhaps that's why this Fox reality show always pulls out the big (loud, funny, not adverse to high-pitch screaming) guns when it comes to guest judges, and So You Think You Can Dance Season 11 will be no different. Wednesday's premiere kicks off a lineup of particularly lyrically-inclined Olympians, actors, Tony Award winners, and, of course, former SYTYCD champions. Take a look at who you can expect to help select dance's Next Big Thing over the coming weeks:
Audition City Stars
Jenna Dewan-Tatum (Atlanta) has certainly earned her Hollywood dancing stripes, starring in the first of one of the most prolific dance movie franchises out there, Step Up. She's sure to have high expectations of contemporary and hip-hip auditions, and oddly has "audience member" listed in her IMDb credits for the SYTYCD Season 2 finale, so we at least know she's got some show-specific experience.
Billy Porter (Philadelphia), winner of the 2013 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his critically acclaimed performance as Lola in Kinky Boots, knows what it's like to live or die by one audition, one stage performance, not to mention, a little bit of healthy competition with your peers.
Porter is a little more "song" than he is "dance," but he'll find plenty of technical support with his fellow Philadelphia guest judge, ballerina, Misty Copeland. By all means a ballet prodigy, Copeland didn't take her first ballet class until age 13, by 15 was named the Best Young Dancer in the L.A. area by the Los Angeles Times, and was selected as a member of the American Ballet Theater Studio Company by 18. In 2007 she became the first ABT African American female soloist in two decades. Oh, and as a self-proclaimed 5'2, "curvy" ballerina, she's probably not looking for the same old, same old.
Everybody loves Wayne Brady (New Orleans), and it seems SYTYCD is no different, inviting him back for his second run at guest judging. What he lacks in traditional dance training he more than makes up for in humor, charm, and ability to keep Mary Murphy on her toes.
Jenna Elfman (Chicago) is another returning guest judge, also known for her wit and charm, and a classically trained ballerina, as well. Before she became an actress, Elfman got her start dancing in rock music videos and touring with the likes of ZZ Top. Girl invented swag, and she's ready to pass it on.
Balancing out Elfman's rocker sensibilities will be fellow Chicago guest judge, Fabrice Calmels, the world's tallest professional ballet dancer, at 6'6 and 1/2". Calmels is a Joffrey Ballet principal dancer, and a natural athlete who's sure to have high expectations of every dance and body type.
She's back! Christina Applegate (Los Angeles), everybody's favorite SYTYCD guest judge will be back in L.A. A guest judge since Season 8, Applegate has proved over and over again that she has that perfect combination of technical know-how, and appreciation of the art form to be able to do what only the best judges can... sniff out potential and help these already tremendous dancers become even better artists and athletes.
The Callback Crew
Adam Shankman, Tara Lipinski, Stephen “tWitch” Boss and Irina Dvorovenko will judge the L.A. callbacks with a special combination of technique, choreogrpahy personality, and SYTYCD experience.
And just a little bit o' Biebs
Don't worry, Canada's most unpredictable teen won't have the fate of dance as we know it in his rebellious hands. But the show has been looking for a way to incorporate Justin Bieber, a big fan, for a few seasons now, and they finally found a way that could work into his schedule: Season 11's new Dance Crew feature. Two dance crews will go head-to-head in each of the four audition episodes, earning their votes via Twitter. Bieber's involvement will mostly be pre-taped intros for the crews, with the four winners of each battle performing live on the show; the final crew left standing will perform on the finale.