"America's Favorite Dancer" is a pretty baller title, but that's not usually all the winner of a season of So You Think You Can Dance walks away with. There are spoils for the victor, and usually fans have the list of prizes memorized by now. So You Think You Can Dance has gone through a series of changes in the last few years, from format, to scheduling, to the make-up of the judges table. For reasons unknown, the producers have also cut host Cat Deeley's regular rundown of the prizes the dancers are competing for. Time for some educated guessing.
Season 11 winner Ricky Ubeda earned a $250,000 cash prize, the cover of Dance Spirit magazine, and a job: he performed in the ensemble of On The Town on Broadway earlier this year. Out of all of these winnings, I'd wager that the cash prize is the most likely to be in play again this year. All past So You Think You Can Dance champions have received some kind of monetary benefit, though the amount has varied. It's the winners of the years when two Favorite Dancers were chosen — Eliana Girard and Chehon Wespi-Tschopp in Season 9, and Amy Yakima and Du-Shaunt "Fik-Shun" Stegall in Season 10 — who got the shortest end of the stick. Two winners did not translate into double the budget. They had to split the pot with each other.
Dance Spirit magazine has been featuring a steady amount of So You Think You Can Dance coverage this season, and is hosting a sweepstakes for tickets to the live finale. So, though there is no official word yet that dance fans will see the winner's face on the cover of the magazine, all signs point to a continued partnership between the publication and the show. I can easily picture tapper Gabby Diaz or hip-hopper Virgil Gadson striking a pose for Dance Spirit readers.
As for Ubeda's On The Town gig, that's a prize that may not be easily recreated. The show is still running on Broadway, but the theater world is cutthroat and fickle. There's no guarantee that it won't close before a Season 12 winner would find his or her way into the cast. So, another musical? Maybe. But, the timing and the circumstances need to be right. The producers need to be willing to go with the audience votes to cast a part in their show. (It helped in On The Town's case that the show's choreographer Josh Bergasse is also in the So You Think You Can Dance family.) And, the ensemble has to be one that's light on the singing, in case that's not among the winner's talents. This prize may have been a one-off for a special case year.
There is always the possibility of some new prizes for the show's winner. Maybe the list hasn't been shared because there are different winnings planned for a Team Stage champion versus a Team Street. Maybe the show's new panel has something to do with it, and a spot on Jason Derulo's tour might be up for grabs. I'm not sure. What I am sure of is that the prizes are a drop in the bucket compared to the passion this Top 20 has for the art form, and for the years of work that this kind of exposure can offer. No matter who wins, or what they win, they're going to be well off.
Images: Adam Rose/Fox; Giphy (3)