So You Think You Can Dance has become a beloved staple of television entertainment, showcasing incredible dancing talent and captivating audiences for years. However, one common issue that arises for many viewers is not knowing who the judges are. In this article, we dive deep into the lives of the judges on So You Think You Can Dance, exploring their dance backgrounds, notable achievements, and how their expertise contributes to their role on the show.

Meet the Faces Behind the So You Think You Can Dance Judging Panel

The current judging panel consists of three experts, each with a significant background in various dance styles.

judging panel

Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy, and Laurieann Gibson have been the primary judges for several seasons of the show. Nigel is a renowned television producer and director who has worked on shows like American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance UK. Mary is a former ballroom dance champion who has been teaching and coaching for over 40 years. Laurieann is a well-known choreographer who has worked with numerous artists such as Lady Gaga and Nicki Minaj. Each of them brings a unique perspective and set of skills to the judging panel, making for a diverse and well-rounded group of experts.

Discover the Dance Backgrounds of Your Favorite So You Think You Can Dance Judges

The judges’ individual dance backgrounds are crucial to their judging methods and criteria.

Nigel Lythgoe started out as a dancer himself, training in jazz, tap, and classical ballet. He later transitioned into choreography and eventually production and direction. Mary Murphy was a professional ballroom dancer, winning several national competitions and being inducted into the Dance Legends Hall of Fame. Laurieann Gibson studied at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and went on to choreograph music videos for major artists like Beyoncé and Alicia Keys. Their diverse backgrounds allow them to judge a broad range of dance styles with the insight and experience needed to critique effectively.

On the show, each judge’s expertise in a particular dance style shines through. For example, Mary Murphy’s knowledge of ballroom dance allows her to provide critical insights into the performances of contestants specializing in that style. Nigel’s extensive background in choreography and production provides valuable commentary on overall stage performance and storytelling, and Laurieann’s experience with commercial and contemporary dance allows her to judge a wide range of styles with precision and detail.

Get to Know the Celebrity Judges Bringing Expertise to the So You Think You Can Dance Stage

Throughout the show’s run, So You Think You Can Dance has featured numerous celebrity judges adding their unique insights to the competition.

Demi Lovato, Christina Applegate, and Jenna Dewan are just a few of the notable celebrity judges to have graced the So You Think You Can Dance stage. Demi Lovato, a singer, songwriter, and actress, brought her experience as a performer to the table, providing valuable feedback on stage presence and overall performance quality. Christina Applegate is best known for her acting career but has also demonstrated impressive dance skills, serving as a judge on the show’s seventh season. Jenna Dewan, an actress, dancer, and former host of the show, has also brought her expertise to the judging panel, providing critical feedback on technique and performance quality.

A Look at the Journey of So You Think You Can Dance Judges from Dancers to Judges

Before becoming judges on So You Think You Can Dance, each of them had a successful career as a dancer in their own right.

Nigel Lythgoe began his career as a dancer and choreographer, working on numerous projects in the UK and eventually branching out into television. Mary Murphy was a successful ballroom dancer, winning competitions and performing in various shows and events. Laurieann Gibson had an impressive career as a dancer and choreographer, working with top artists and appearing in music videos and films.

Their backgrounds as dancers inform their work as judges, giving them a unique understanding of the challenges faced by the contestants on the show. Their experience in the dance industry also provides insights into the opportunities available for the winners of the contest, giving them valuable input on what to look for in a future dancing sensation.

The Importance of the Judges on So You Think You Can Dance: Examining Their Role and Responsibilities

The judges on So You Think You Can Dance play an integral role in the show and its progression over time.

The judges’ role on the show has evolved over time, from simply providing feedback and critiquing performances to taking on more significant responsibilities such as selecting the top contestants and deciding who moves forward in the competition. They also serve as mentors to the contestants, providing guidance and constructive criticism to help them improve their performances week after week.

The judges’ responsibilities have a significant impact on the show’s contest, providing a crucial aspect of the competition that helps to determine the winner. They are responsible for providing critical insights into the performances of the contestants, helping to shape their styles and choreography for the competition. They also have the final say in determining who stays and who goes, providing audience members with clear and concise feedback on each contestant’s performance.

The judges face unique challenges during their role on the show, from balancing their critiques with constructive feedback to devoting enough time to each contestant’s performance, and sometimes facing criticism from viewers. However, their dedication and expertise make them an integral part of So You Think You Can Dance and its continued success over the years.

10 Fun Facts about the So You Think You Can Dance Judges That You Didn’t Know

Get to know the judges behind So You Think You Can Dance with these fun facts:

  • Nigel Lythgoe was awarded the International Emmy Founders Award in 2018 for his work in television production.
  • Mary Murphy had a cameo in the movie Batman Forever.
  • Laurieann Gibson served as Lady Gaga’s creative director for several years, working on numerous iconic music videos and performances.
  • Former judge, Mia Michaels, has won Emmy Awards for her choreography on the show and has also choreographed for Celine Dion, Madonna, and Prince.
  • Nigel Lythgoe appeared as a guest judge on American Idol several times and later became the show’s executive producer.
  • Mary Murphy is known for her loud, exuberant style of judging, affectionately dubbed the “Hot Tamale Train.”
  • Laurieann Gibson has her dance competition TV show called Beyond the Spotlight.
  • Since appearing on the show, many judges have become social media influencers, sharing behind-the-scenes content and dance tutorials with their fans and followers.
  • The judges’ critiques have become legendary catchphrases, from Nigel’s “fab-u-lous” to Mary’s “hot tamale train.”
  • The judges have formed close bonds over their years working together on the show, becoming close friends both on and off the stage.


The judges on So You Think You Can Dance are talented, experienced, and crucial to the show’s continued success. Their backgrounds as dancers, performers, and choreographers bring unique perspective and expertise to the competition, making for a dynamic and engaging viewing experience. By getting to know the judges and their backgrounds more intimately, viewers can gain a greater appreciation for the hard work and dedication that goes into making this beloved show the success it is today.

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By Happy Sharer

Hi, I'm Happy Sharer and I love sharing interesting and useful knowledge with others. I have a passion for learning and enjoy explaining complex concepts in a simple way.

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