We go on and on every summer about So You Think You Can Dance’s first-rate dance routines and Cat Deeley’s glamorous wardrobe, but the show would be nothing without its panel of expert judges.
While Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy have been consistent faces from the beginning, we’ve witnessed an abundance of guest judges throughout the years. From celebrities, to choreographers, to dance teachers, many industry bigwigs have provided contestants and America with their insight and critique.
The fate of the Season 9 judges’ panel remains uncertain, but we wouldn’t mind seeing the return of these five celebrities. Here are our Top 5 picks for the best guest judges on SYTYCD.
5. Debbie Allen
When Debbie Allen talks dance, you listen. With decades of professional dance experience and three Emmy wins under her belt, she’s one of the most respected individuals in the industry. She’s been a part of SYTYCD from its initial stages, helping shape the show and mold America’s next generation of dancers.
Her critique comes from a caring place, as she challenges dancers to always strive for 150 percent in their technique and performance. When she addresses a dancer, she is honest and genuine. The show is better because of her contributions.
4. Neil Patrick Harris
Who knew Doogie Howser had it in him to judge a dance competition?
Neil Patrick Harris, who is best known for his television roles as the child medial protégé Doogie Howser and the womanizing Barney Stinson on CBS’s How I Met Your Mother, is a multifaceted talent is no stranger to the world of dance.
Backed by years of Broadway experience, NPH delivered well-informed and constructive critiques to the contestants of Season 8. He wasn’t an ‘easy-grader,’ but he was pretty spot on in his thoughts. He made the dancers really step up to the plate.
3. Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga credits SYTYCD for helping launch her music career. She went from a singer/songwriter to an international pop music icon after appearing on the show as a guest performer in 2010. In Season 8, Gaga returned to SYTYCD as a celebrity guest judge.
There’s no denying that this diva is a true artist and she brought a lot of energy to the judges’ panel. She was moved by many of the dancers, especially Melanie Moore (hey, can you blame her?), and the dancers were equally inspired by her presence.
We are gaga for Gaga!
2. Christina Applegate
On many occasions, actress Christina Applegate has admitted to her addiction to SYTYCD. In fact, it’s been a long-time aspiration of hers to appear as a guest judge on the show, and this past season her dream came true.
Christina came to the panel with legit dance creds on her resume (she was nominated for a Tony Award for her role in the Broadway revival of Sweet Charity). She was able to follow the lingo and give great feedback. Christina knew when to gush and when to be more stern in her critique. She was a great addition.
1. Travis Wall
At this point, Travis Wall has experienced every spectrum of the show. He competed and placed in the runner-up position on Season 2, he’s been a spectator in the audience, he’s choreographed routines, and he was a guest judge on Season 8. This gives him a well-rounded perspective on the show.
We adore this young talent for many reasons, but the best thing about having Travis as a guest judge is that he is a huge asset to the competing dancers. Travis tells it like it is when it comes to the dancers’ technique. If they are not pointing their feet, stretching their knees, or pulling up in a turn, Travis lets them know. This allows them to become the best dancers possible!
Who were your favorite guest judges from past seasons of SYTYCD, and who would you like to see return for Season 9?