Yes, America, your head is still overflowing with images and sappy tunes from last night's American Idol finale, but Fox is trying its best to stave off those summer-TV blues. That's got to be why the third season of So You Think You Can Dance premieres tonight at 8 pm/ET. To help ease the transition from belters and beatboxers to breakers and swingers, TVGuide.com rang host Cat Deeley. Though the British bombshell was herself trying to juggle duties of covering Idol for her homeland and returning to her role as the Ryan Seacrest of the dancing world, she squeezed in the time to give us a preview of this year's outrageous hoofers and her own spectacular outfits.
TVGuide.com: Hi, Cat. We're all excited for So You Think You Can Dance to return. Should we expect anything different this season?
Cat Deeley: Basically, it's everything you know and love, but bigger and better. I think people really understand the show now, they understand the concept, they understand the level of talent that's required, and they understand that the tricks have got to be more spectacular, even more outlandish. The characters have got to be even bigger and quicker to come to the surface. I think people now understand that there's no point in finally showing your personality Week 4; it has to be out there and people have to see it warts and all. Quite often that's what makes America fall in love with these dancers. It's the trials and tribulations that someone goes through, as much as the happy, jokey stuff, that people are attracted to. That's something we can all relate to, whether we're dancers or not.
TVGuide.com: Are there any returning dancers who didn't make it last season?
Deeley: Well, you might want to sit down for this: "Sex" [aka last year's most delusional wannabe from New York] is back. You might want to have a cold shower on standby for afterwards.
TVGuide.com: Did the producers call him up and ask him to return?
Deeley: No! It didn't take any persuasion for either him or his mother. There have been a couple of other people who've come back, and some have even made it through. I can't tell you any more than that. It's very interesting.
TVGuide.com: Are we going to see some tear-jerking stories?
Deeley: I think you will. There was one lady who was so incredible and such a lovely woman. She had been in a horrendous accident in Israel — it was on the news. There was a wedding and the whole floor dropped and fell through three floors to the parking structure. I think she was in a coma for months and months. They had to rebuild her face. This is the thing about dancers: They can dance through any injury that would make us cry in pain. They somehow just manage to pick themselves up off the floor and get on with it.
TVGuide.com: Generally speaking, dancers are not like actors, and are not the most verbally expressive people. What do you do to bring out their personality for the camera?
Deeley: You're absolutely right. The other thing is that normally dancers are part of an ensemble, they're team players, not the star. That's what's really interesting about this show — it's their chance to step into the spotlight and shine.
TVGuide.com: Do you have a trick to make them talk?
Deeley: Not really, just to make them feel as comfortable as possible. Above and beyond anybody else, I am completely and utterly on their side. Basically because I can see just how talented they are and just how much effort goes into it, and I'm not a dancer myself, so to me, whatever they do is spectacular, whereas a choreographer might go to them and say, "Well, your lines weren't quite even and... " blah-blah-blah.
TVGuide.com: Are you seeing any new trends in the people trying out?
Deeley: There are more breakers this year. They've learned that you have to do different styles, so you have to go take a class in ballroom or contemporary. Just a class, so they can get through the choreography. If you haven't had that technical training, it's very difficult to get through that 15-minute dance class and be able to perform the routine at the end.
TVGuide.com: You keep saying you're a terrible dancer, but you have to have picked up something while hosting this show.
Deeley: This is a bit of a sore point. Every once in a while, I'll mention to Shane Sparks, "Oh, I'd really love to do something." And then the subject just gets changed and never brought up again. So maybe I'm beyond help. I'm not entirely sure.
TVGuide.com: They've all seen you dance?
Deeley: If you want to call it "dancing." You can, if you're just trying to be polite. I do a bit of a shoulder shimmy. But you know, somebody's got to make the dancers look good. I could spin on my head if I wanted to....
TVGuide.com: At least you are surely becoming a more educated observer of dance. Are you able to guess what the judges will say about some of the performances?
Deeley: Sometimes, a little bit. Or because I know the backstory. Maybe one week, a breaker has struggled to learn the fox trot, I'll be looking out for whether they've improved. But it's interesting, you can tell the people who have star quality, too. That "x" factor, or charisma or whatever that thing is, you can tell it just from them walking on the stage. And you cross your fingers and go, "God, I hope you can dance brilliantly, too." It's like last year, Travis [Wall] and Benji [Schwimmer] were our final two, and Travis was an amazing dancer and had a great personality, and Benji was a great dancer but had an amazing personality. It was the personality that won at the end of the day.
TVGuide.com: Especially since it is a popularity contest.
Deeley: It is "America's Favorite Dancer," not the best dancer, not the best technical performer.
TVGuide.com: Neither Benji nor Season 1 winner Nick Lazzarini has taken the complete prize. [Nick declined a year of rent-free living in New York City, and Benji didn't take the contract with Celine Dion's Las Vegas show.] Are they going to offer something more enticing this year?
Deeley: It hasn't been announced yet. But I know it's bigger.
TVGuide.com: Have you kept up with what some of last year's dancers are doing?
Deeley: I know some have been auditioning for movies. Benji was in the Christina Aguilera video. Natalie [Foutopoulis] was out choreographing SYTYCD in Greece. They've been doing great stuff.
TVGuide.com: How about getting a girl to win this time?
Deeley: Well, that could very well happen. We actually have a girl breaker this time, too. It's about time, I think.
TVGuide.com: I'm saving my best question for last: What are you going to do to top last year's wardrobe?
Deeley: A-ha! Put it this way: I have a black skirt that's entirely made of feathers. It's kind of wild.
TVGuide.com: You have to dance in that!
Deeley: Even if I just did Swan Lake. I love the fact that people watch and go, "What is she wearing this week?!" It's part of the show now. I'm in the process of putting together outfits as we speak.
TVGuide.com: I think the dancers' costume designers have their job cut out for them to keep up with you.
Deeley: That's the thing. If I went out there in jeans and a vest, and I stood next to someone doing a salsa or a paso doble, I'd just look ridiculous. They're all there in their sparkly outfits, with flowers in their hair and all the rest of it. A girl's got to put up a bit of a show to stand next to these kids!
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