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They compete for the votes of the broadcast viewing audience which, combined with the input of a panel of judges, determines which dancers advance to the next stage from week to week.
So You Think You Can Dance has won seven Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Choreography and a total of nine Emmy Awards altogether.
Following the finalist selection process, the show transitions into its regular competition phase, which lasts the rest of the season.
The competition stage is typically divided into 8 weeks, generally with two contestants eliminated per week.
The callbacks consist of a several-day-long process in which the remaining hopefuls are tested for overall well-rounded dance ability, stamina, creativity and their ability to perform under pressure.
These dancers move on to the competition's main phase, where they perform solo, duet, and group dance numbers on live television, attempting to master a diverse selection of dance styles, including classical, contemporary, ballroom, hip-hop, street, club, jazz, and musical theatre styles, among others.
Additionally the dancers may be asked to perform further solos in styles of their choosing and participate in a group choreography round in which small teams of contestants must display their musicality and ability to communicate professionally by choreographing a performance to a randomly selected piece of music — this challenge is notable as being the only time competitors are asked to choreograph themselves, aside from solos.
The Callbacks are often collectively portrayed as one of the most exhausting and stressful stages of the competition; each successive round sees cuts in which a significant portion of the remaining dancers are eliminated from competition and dancers are given a limited amount of time to adapt to styles they are sometimes wholly unfamiliar with while being physically taxed by the rapid progression of rounds and a limited amount of rest.
Nigel Lythgoe is co-creator of the So You Think You Can Dance franchise, and has been executive producer and permanent member of the judge's panel of the U. This panel then decides on-the-spot whether the dancer demonstrated enough ability and performance value to proceed further.
If the dancer exhibited exceptional ability in their performance, judges award "a ticket to Vegas" (or in more recent seasons "a ticket to the Academy"), moving them instantly one step forward in the competition.
1 rated summer show (adults aged 18–49), but it has declined in ratings since.