Why 'So You Think You Can Dance' Is Replacing Its Entire Judging Panel

So You Think You Can Dance is coming back to Fox this spring – but former judges Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy, Laurieann Gibson and Dominic "D-Trix" Sandoval will not be back for Season 17

The first season of the show in three years starts on May 18, with the new judging panel comprising one-time SYTYCD contestant (and Season 15 judge) Stephen "tWitch" Boss, recent Dancing with the Stars star JoJo Siwa, and Glee star Matthew Morrison.

For Season 17, the only So You Think You Can Dance star who will be back is host Cat Deeley, returning to the U.S. after moving back to the U.K. in summer 2020 due to concerns about American gun violence.

Why Has the Judging Panel Been Replaced?

It seems that the makers of the show have used its three-year hiatus for a revamp – and part of this process has included hiring a younger set of judges.

The first sign that SYTYCD was refreshing its panel came in March 2020, when judge and series co-creator Nigel Lythgoe tweeted that he would not be back for Season 17.

He wrote: "I am so thrilled that America's young aspiring dance talent will get to work with some of our greatest creative choreographers. On a personally sad note, I have not been asked to be on the judging panel this season. I don't know who will be saying 'Cue Music' but I wish them well."

Laurieann Gibson, meanwhile, is busy with a new talent show of her own. Deadline reported in October 2021 that the Canadian choreographer was working on a show named Icon "where she, alongside various celebrity judges, will handpick 11 artists to participate in an arduous, transformative 11-week artist development camp to challenge and elevate their artistry as a singer, dancer and entertainer" per an official logline.

The new judging panel seems aimed at attracting a younger audience to the show. The average age of the new batch of judges is 33 – with the 43-year-old Morrison and 39-year-old Boss joined by Siwa, 18. This is compared to the 2019 panel, who had an average age of 52.

So You Think You Can Dance's 2022 season will be the first without Lythgoe, who has appeared on the show since its first episode in July 2005.

Boss is the only one of the new panel to have judged the show before, appearing alongside Lythgoe, Murphy and Vanessa Hudgens in the 2018 season. Morrison previously judged dance competition The Greatest Dancer in the U.K. for two seasons in 2019 and 2020.

Siwa, meanwhile, is more used to being on the competing side of dance competitions. She made her TV debut at the age of 10 on Lifetime show, Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition, before finding fame on Dance Moms. In 2021, she made TV history by appearing in Dancing With the Stars' first same-sex couple.

When Lythgoe announced he hadn't been asked to return, it wasn't known whether Deeley would return to the hosting job she has had since 2006. In 2020, the 45-year-old presenter had returned to her native U.K. after her husband and son were caught up in a mall shooting. She then took on a number of British hosting gigs, raising questions over whether she would be returning for the U.S. dance show.

Speaking to Britain's Stella Magazine in May 2021, however, she hinted that she would be back as SYTYCD host. She said: "The original idea was that the kids could go to school here and see their grandparents more..I thought, 'It's easy, we can fly back to LA for summers,' as that's when the dance show records."

so you think you can dance 2022
The judges and host of the 2019 season of "So You Think You Can Dance." Host Cat Deeley (centre) is the only star returning to the Fox show for Season 17. Fox