|Published interview of SYTYCD head judge, Harold van Buuren|
After a three-year break, SABC 1’s So You Think You Can Dance, returned a few weeks ago with a new host, and two new judges. Harold van Buuren is the remaining judge of the reality competition show and has welcomed Top Billing and former ballet dancer Lorna Maseko and actor and dancer, Themba Nofemele to the panel. A new host in The Link’s Sinazo Yolwa is also part of the show’s reboot. Harold said he was excited about the changes and promised a good season of dance and great TV, but he didn't know what to do without his catchphrase: “Thank you Sade”.
Were you surprised that Rapid Blue and SABC 1 wanted the show back?
I won’t lie. I’ve been hoping that the show would come back. It’s a great show and we’ve unearthed so much amazing talent that it would’ve been a shame had it not come back. SYTYCD is one of those shows that explores the history and truth in dancing, plus it makes for great TV. So I’m glad it’s back.
Is it weird that you are the only returning judge?
It is weird. Change is always weird. Funny thing is I was at first, very unsure about working with Themba and Lorna, or whether they were the right fit for the show. But I’ve been pleasantly surprised.
How has it been working with them so far?
They are dynamic and so different. Themba I’d say is more mature. He’s the quiet type, he assesses the situation and then he makes a decision. Lorna is feisty and speaks her mind. The live shows are going to be really interesting and I’m looking forward to them.
Are you missing Didi Moses and David Matamela?
So much. We were like a family having been together for two seasons. We built a bond and as much as I love the freshness of having Themba and the dear Lorna on the show, I miss David and Didi. I miss how kind, but firm David was with the dancers. He encouraged them more than anything. Didi was strict. She was the no-nonsense judge who expected dancers to deliver all the time. I loved how fair she was – when you did well, she’d compliment you and when you were bad; then boy would she be upset. I miss that about them.
How is the talent looking this season?
It’s amazing – there are some extraordinarily talented dancers on the show. It makes me happy how unpredictable some of the talent has been. The variety in the dancers is excellent and I’m really excited about this season. There’s this one hip hop dancer who came to audition in the second season and he wasn’t serious about dancing. I could see that he was talented, but he wasn’t willing to learn new dance styles. He came to audition again this season. He’s now a contemporary dancer and he|came on the show and blew me away.
Have you been following the success or lack thereof of previous contestants?
Yes, most of them. I do see them pop up now and then. I just wish that we had a bigger platform for our dancers. Dance is an important art, like any other. I’ve seen dance change lives of people. Even on SYTYCD, we’ve seen it. Youth from poor backgrounds take up dance as a way to leave those circumstances. I wish it would be taken seriously and for more events to be held where dancers are given a chance to show just how talented South Africa is.
It’s been a long break since the last season. What have you been doing?
So much. In-between teaching, I trained a world champion couple – they recently got back from the World Ballroom Championships and they won. I’ve been choreographing quite a few dances. So I’ve been working non-stop.
With so many changes in the cast of the show, should we expect a new way of doing things?
Not so much. It’s a well designed format and it’s been working well, so I don’t think there’s any need for change. The only thing that I have to change is “Thank you Sade”. With Sade (Gilberti) no longer hosting the show and replaced by Sinazo, I’m now working hard to get a new phrase to use on her, it’s no easy feat.
Catch SYTYCD, Saturdays at 6.30pm and Mondays on SABC 1 at 7pm