Adam Shankman has been a choreographer on So You Think You Can Dance since season three; but he may have found his new calling as a judge this season.
American Idol fans would chortle at the idea of the often hyper-critical Simon Cowell singing. But what makes Dance judges Nigel, Mary and Adam worth listening to is that they have all been incredibly successful professional dancers themselves. Adam can clearly identify with the So You Think You Can Dance competitors, and his compassion is obvious when he talks about them.
I spoke with Adam backstage at CBS Studio City, moments after he wrapped up season six of So You Think You Can Dance. He looked classy in his expensive tux, and had a lot of exciting news to share about the contestants' upcoming appearance on The Academy Awards, his movie with Miley Cyrus, and his potential return to the judge's chair next season.
Were you surprised by Russell's win tonight?
Not at all. I actually sort of called it back in Vegas. He was so good at all of the different styles back then. It surprised us. We recognized that he had extraordinary charisma. He had faced unfortunate circumstances that he'd had to overcome. His life had been difficult. So we thought, 'In order to make people pick up the phone [you need] that smile, that talent, that fortitude.' He had a natural combination to win the show.
Can you tell us what the Academy Awards prize involves?
Well, it's not a prize from So You Think You Can Dance. It's a prize from me. As you may or may not know, 20 years ago it was my first big job in Los Angeles. I got hired by Paula Abdul to dance on the Oscars in 1990 and that started me on my path. It's given me all of these extraordinary opportunities. These kids blow me away so much. I'd like to give them the same opportunity that I had. I have decided to bestow it, to put dancers on the show.
Do you know what they'll be doing yet?
I actually don't; but if there are musical numbers in there, they'll be there. Otherwise they'll be stage hands. [laughs] I promised them they'd be on the show so they'll be dressed as trophies or something.
It's funny how you guys travel in the same circles. Paula Abdul hired you and you both became judges.
Let's put it this way. Yes. Paula and I have stayed in each other's purview for many, many, many years. I really appreciate the opportunities that she gave me and all of her support.
Will you be third chair again next season?
I don't know. If I'm directing a movie then I can't. It all depends on that.
So are you doing Rock of Ages soon?
I don't know. I have three movies battling for my attention right now. We'll see which one goes in the spring.
What are the other two projects?
Bob: The Musical and Sinbad: The Lost Voyage. We have three movies that I produced coming out already next year. We have Step Up 3-D. We just locked The Last Song, with Miley Cyrus and Nicholas Sparks, which is just fabulous. And there's Going the Distance with Drew Barrymore and Jason Long, which we just tested last night, and it did great! So I'm very pleased with how that's all going. And then I have a little live TV show in March [The Oscars] that I have to produce.
Were there some So You Think You Can Dance dancers in Step Up 3-D?
There are! There's five or six.
Josh Allen, Ivan, Katie, Twitch, and others. I feel bad that I can't remember. But there are.
Do you think that Russell being a krumper opened up possibilities for future seasons?
Absolutely. Everytime a ceiling is been broken, the next one is just higher. It's fantastic.
You had a krumper for the first time, and also tap dancers for the first time. Do you think the krump was a more successful experiment than the tap?
No! I actually don't! I think a lot of those tappers ended up going home earlier because of the cards they pulled, and the kinds of dances they were asked to do. Because I think that they're all tremendous dancers.
-Henry Jenkins, Guest Columnist