Yes, they can dance, but will they be able to stand up at the end? With its relentless weekly schedule, signing up for So You Think You Can Dance "is like getting shot out of a cannon," says Season 2 runner-up-turned-choreographer Travis Wall. Here's a day-by-day glimpse into what it takes to become America's Favorite Dancer.
Wednesday, Aug. 15
After the live show, the focus immediately shifts to the next week. The new challenge? The dancers will leave their original pairings to partner an "all-star," a former contestant on the show. Coexec producer Jeff Thacker gives stern marching orders: "The all-star is going to be your support through this," he says, "but they are not going to carry you."
Friday, Aug. 17
Following a day of rest, the contestants have a 7:30am call time and head to the first rehearsal. Wall — who this week must come up with separate pieces for contestants Witney and Cyrus — admits he feels the heat, too. "[We're all] trying to have the most memorable routines," he says. "It's like: What else can we do to shock America? As the seasons have progressed, there've been more injuries due to the [larger] demands of the choreography." Spencer Liff, who's created what he hopes is a winning number for Lindsay using shadows and a projector screen, adds, "You're a unit. If you fail, they fail. They're dancing 15 hours a day, on IVs backstage, being taken to the hospital. You feel evil asking them to do more. But you have to give them the confidence to go out there."
Saturday, Aug. 18
Last day with the choreographer, and the pressure's on to have the routine down by the end of a three-hour session. But even after these grueling rehearsals, the dancers will practice well into the night on their own around their apartment complex: the parking lot, the gym, their rooms. Do they make noise? "Yes," says Thacker. Do you get complaints? "Yes."
Sunday, Aug. 19
It's an eight-hour rehearsal for the group routine, which this week is a tribute to Gene Kelly. By Monday — when they tape this performance — choreographer Tyce Diorio will have to sub in for ailing contestant Cole, who's been suffering with gout.
Monday, Aug. 20
The dancers "dry-block" the routines for cameras. For the first time, they'll see their competition.
Tuesday, Aug. 21
The show tapes a day early this week, and the choreographers sit in the audience. "It's the worst," says Wall. "My armpits are sweating. You have no control over what the judges say. You'll think it's amazing. They'll go: 'Yeah, we didn't like it.'" Tonight, though, Wall's two pieces are lauded by the judges, as is Liff's. When the show ends,"I talk about the dancers who are leaving, and we all hug," Thacker says. And then the survivors get set to do it all over again.
So You Think You Can Dance airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on Fox.