You'll still get to see a lot of Mia Michaels, even though she's no longer on So You Think You Can Dance. The Emmy-winning choreographer, who shocked fans by announcing her exit last month on Twitter, has three shows, a book deal and a clothing line in the works. "It would've been very easy to stay," Michaels tells TVGuide.com. "But I had all these other opportunities to take my art to the next level. I just constantly want to keep challenging myself and keep putting my work out there." With so much going on, does she even have time to watch the Fox hit? See what she says, whether she'll return and why she thinks she'll be the next media mogul.
TVGuide.com: Have you been watching So You Think You Can Dance?
Mia Michaels: I have. I DVR it. It's interesting [to be a fan]. It feels strange because it's been part of my life for five years, but it feels cool. I love the dancers this year. I was sad when Ariana got cut the first week. I didn't get that at all! [Laughs] I would've fought Nigel on that panel for sure because she was awesome. Noelle and Billy being out — those are two powerhouse dancers. I'm just like, "Oh, no!" But it's been wonderful. It took me a minute to make the decision, but it's so right.
Michaels: We do auditions a lot earlier on and during that time, I was still involved and working on Season 5. Before I got into the studio and put my creative stamp on Season 6, I thought it was the right time to leave, so I just finished the auditions and choosing the top 20. I felt it was the right time before I got attached to the kids and they got attached to me. ... The Twitter [post] made everyone catch on. I did not realize the power of Twitter! [Laughs] It's scary! I just tweeted that nonchalantly and then the next day, I wake up and I'm like, "What the hell happened?!" It's insane, but now I know what to use as definite promotional tools! TVGuide.com: When you first started the show, did you always plan to leave?
Michaels: It's funny because when they first came to me, I was like, "Oh, a reality show?" I wasn't so sure because it's all about integrity for me. On a lot of reality shows, a lot of people act and are not honest about who they are. What makes good TV? That's the one thing I've learned from being on the show. I thought I'd take it one day at a time and next thing you know, five years and an Emmy later, I'm like, "Wow! OK. That was a journey." It comes to a point where, as an artist, you have to make changes in order for you to grow and challenge yourself. My whole thing is, if you're not growing, then you're stagnant and you die. Was it a hard decision? It was probably one of the hardest, but it was right for my future.
Michaels: We haven't really talked about that yet. We have a great relationship and if it's meant to be, it'll be. But right now, I'm focusing on my brand, exploring my new shows and a few other things. It is family and if it's meant to be, I'll be back, even as a guest. TVGuide.com: You left to work on the international editions of the show and you hurt your back choreographing the finale for the Canadian version. How are you feeling?
Michaels: I hurt my back in September doing Janet Jackson's Michael Jackson tribute. I herniated a disc then. I healed from it and I get to Canada and start creating on the finale. I wasn't in any pain at all and the next thing you know, I'm in the hospital with a second disc. Right now, I have three disc issues. I'm probably going to be doing surgery, but nowadays, it's the laser, so it'll be in and out. I just hate this whole not being able to dance and move. It's like being in jail.
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TVGuide.com: Can you tell us more about your choreography show?
Michaels: It's going to be unbelievable! [Laughs] I'm going to be the next Tyra, Heidi Klum ... I'm also going to be doing shows and stuff where America can see my work. I'm going to be hands-on, creating. You'll really get a sense of who I am now as opposed to the little bits you see on So You Think. There are three separate shows that are right now being talked about. Another is a stage show that will be touring that will be documented as a "making of" reality show. I'm excited. It's time.
TVGuide.com: The fan reaction has been overwhelming. Some people think the quality of the show will go down without you. What do you have to say to that?
Michaels: I feel very honored. When you just do your work and you read these things, it's like, "Whoa!" I try not to feel guilty for leaving! [Laughs] I get mail also: "How could you do this to us?" I'm like, "Dude, really?" It's an honor. I feel very, very blessed to be able to affect the public with my art through my own life. My work is like a visual journal. It's very cool. I honestly didn't know the power and all the fans that I truly have, which is truly awesome. But it's also important to stay humble. I try not to buy into it.