International Emmy Award winning producer (American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance), Nigel Lythgoe and his son, Simon Lythgoe gear up as their new series, ‘A CHANCE TO DANCE’ premieres TONIGHT, August 17 AT 10 PM ET/7 PM PT on Ovation. The series follows Michael Nunn and Billy Trevitt, two of the UK’s most prominent contemporary dancers and choreographers, in their quest to create a new dance company for Nigel Lythgoe in just 28 days. Traveling across the country, they audition dancers from dance schools in Washington, DC; Salt Lake City, UT; and Austin, TX. The final group heads to the dance mecca of Jacob’s Pillow, MA, where they must eliminate half the dancers and form a company for the grand finale: an original live performance in New York City. A CHANCE TO DANCE is a seven-part series airing on Ovation every Friday night at 10PM ET/7PM PT from August 17 to the finale on September 28.
We here at YakkityYaks had the chance to get some insight from Michael Nunn and Billy Trevitt themselves, who just spent Wednesday night behind the judge’s table during SYTYCD’s tribute to Mia Michaels. Here’s what they had to say about this unique experience.
The Yak: When the idea for the show was presented to you, what were your initial thoughts? How did you initially plan to go about approaching the demands of the show? And how did that change as the process went on?
Michael Nunn: We thought it was a great idea to form a company and put on a show. That’s what we do best. The only problem was the 28-day timeframe! Normally we have much longer and control every aspect. With such a short time limit we had to find dancers who could work with us far more collaboratively and create a lot of material themselves.
The Yak: In the dance world, taking the time to choose the right group for a particular project is extremely important. How was it to have done the selection process in “fast-forward,” if you will and maintain the integrity of what dance really is?
Billy Trevitt: It was nerve racking during the selection process because we knew whoever came through the door we would have to consider. We had to leave each venue with dancers and not take the risk that the next place would be better. Once the dancers were found, it was then our task to make a piece of work that would play to their strengths, and disguise their weaknesses.
The Yak: It was nice to see you guys on SYTYCD this week, judging the Top 14. Having not seen the show or knowing the dancers prior to the episode, do you think that made the job more difficult or did it provide you to see it all through a different lens?
Michael: It was a great experience. We saw the show as a competition and it’s always about what is right in front of you there and then. We knew no history nor back stories so we could focus very clearly on the dance they presented that night.
The Yak: What were your thoughts on the dancers and the show as a whole?
Billy: We were surprised that the standard was so high and the styles and training were so diverse. It made things interesting. Any show that introduces art and informs a mass audience is great as far as we are concerned.
The Yak: What are your hopes for A Chance To Dance, in terms of sending a message about dance to its viewers? What do you hope the viewers gain from experiencing this with you throughout this series?
Michael: We hope that when you watch “A Chance to Dance” on Ovation you will come back each week to see these great people develop relationships with each other and with us. It was a real journey with everything that entails. I hope the audience will realise that dancers want to be dancers on a stage performing their craft and that not everyone wants to be a TV reality star.