Cat Deeley has been the public face of So You Think You Can Dance almost since the beginning. She is by far one of the most genuine hosts on TV today. Her compassion and caring for each of the dancers is apparent on camera, and in this interview, she explains that her camaraderie with the dancers continues offstage as well.
In anticipation of this week’s season finale, Cat Deeley sat down with members of the press this week to discuss what it’s like to host So You Think You Can Dance. In attendance in the roundtable discussion were BuddyTV’s own John Kubicek, Dave Lake from MSN TV and Daniel Malen of TheTVAddict.com.
Below, you will find an audiofile and a complete transcript of the interview.
MSN TV: In the world of TV, is this a hard job?
You know what? When it’s live, it’s definitely a moment where… You know, for me, I started off doing live, and I’ve been doing it for 10 years. Some people find live quite scary, but for me, I’ve always done it, so there’s nothing to really be frightened of. The only thing you have to do is really, really think on your feet. So if there’s a mistake or something goes wrong, you have to be prepared to scoop the ball up and throw it back. So, it’s not easy, but it’s definitely not rocket science or brain surgery.
BuddyTV: Have you figured out, over the years, you’ve perfected it and now it’s a lot easier than it was in the beginning?
That’s hopefully what you try and do. It’s all about putting in the prep. And if I prep everything enough, like I help to write the script and then we lay out and we try it during rehearsals and then we’ll try something else. Hopefully, what happens then is you when you actually come to do the show itself, you kind of half know in your own head where you are going to, so you’re not just on a prompter. So can go off prompter all the time, and he’ll kind of stick with me, and I’ll know what’s coming up next, and it’s to make it look as easy as possible. But you want the audience at home to engage with you in a way that feels very comfortable, as though you are just talking to them as a friend. The minute you don’t do all that prep, you suddenly become so hooked on what you’re doing because you don’t really know where you are going. So do the prep, and then let it go.
[Mary Murphy screams in the background.]
Mary Murphy in the house.
MSN TV: Do you wake up to that? Like, is that your alarm in the morning?
[laughs] God forbid, no. That would definitely get you out of bed.
MSN TV: Let’s market that.
TheTVAddict: Ringtone. We have it on a ringtone now. We can turn on the cellphone.
TheTVAddict: Dance has become so huge. It seems that every network has their own dance show. Do you think So You Think You Can Dance really is leading the way in bringing dance back at the top of the entertainment culture?
You know what I think it is? I think that the success of the show is… I mean, of course, the dancing is amazing, and of course, people feel passionate about it. But I think predominantly, the success of the show is about the human element that people identify with. I think dance is the narrative that runs through the show that holds all the different stories together, but I think the thing that people really identify with are the people that are on the show and their backstories and how they have to work hard to get here. It’s all about their successes and failures and trials and tribulations, and I think that’s something that, whether you’re into dance or not, that’s something that we’ve all felt in our lives. And so you can therefore identify with it. And of course, you’re watching to see the girls in the outfits, and the guys lifting them up, and the hip hop moves, and all that kind of stuff as well. But you could come from anywhere in your background. You know, you could have any kind of background, but if you can identify with people on a human element, then that’s going to make the show a success. And I think that’s predominantly what it is.
BuddyTV: Do you have any prior knowledge about what the dancers are going to do? Do you sit in on the rehearsals? Or when you tape the show, is that the first time you’re seeing it?
No, no, no. I don’t sit in on the rehearsals when they’re learning the routines with the choreographers, but they only get about three hours. But I do go to all the rehearsals on the show because also, it’s really important that I develop a relationship with the dancers as well, and for me to do that, I need to be there. You can’t fake that, and it’s very important that it’s a natural relationship. And it’s also very good for me to know what things they’ve struggled with and what things have been easy for them and all that because then I know the backstories and can impart some of that information for people watching at home.
BuddyTV: And what’s in store for the big finale, the results show finale, with the two hours?
It’s going to be pretty impressive. I think some of the old dancers are going to be invited back from previous seasons. There’s going to be all your favorite routines from this season. And not one, but maybe two of the judges might be putting in a performance themselves. That’s all I’m saying.
BuddyTV: You talk about the connection you develop with the dancers. Once the season is over, do you stay in contact with any of the former dancers?
Yeah, absolutely. They’re always around and they always come back to do the shows and all that kind of stuff. And when we’re on the road, particularly if they’ve come back to choreograph, we’ll all go out for dinner and we’ll all hang out together or go for drinks. This season, I can’t so much because the schedule’s relentless on the dancers at the moment, when they’re in the middle of filming, but the dancers from the previous seasons all came around to my house for the Fourth of July. Which is so wrong. I’m English. I shouldn’t be celebrating the Fourth of July. But they all came around to my house and had burgers in the garden and barbecue and stuff. So, yeah, I do.