So Now They Think They Can Tour Too

Los Angeles Times

HOLLYWOOD -- Sure, the Top 10 competitors on "So You Think You Can Dance" will be pared to eight Thursday, but that doesn't mean they will never all share a stage again. On Sept. 20, the 10 will head out on the "So You Think You Can Dance" tour. In less than two months, they will cha-cha, krump and waltz their way across 40 cities. Tickets go on sale Aug. 8.

During a phone interview this week, Tony Wigens, head of touring for 19 Entertainment, was still buzzing from this summer's "American Idol" tour, which landed in 53 cities.

According to Wigens, the idea of an "American Idol" tour was intuitive from the get-go, but planning a "Dance" tour took more consideration. "It was very much a leap in the dark as well as a leap of faith," recalled Wigens, who is far more accustomed to planning musical concerts than dance shows. The "leap of faith" paid off in the tour's first year, 2006. "I think the thing sold out in a matter of hours," he said.

After seeing the tickets snatched up, Wigens assumed that the stadiums would be full of teenagers. Instead, the tour drew fans of all ages. "We were expecting it to be a really young audience, but it really is not," he said. "There's not one specific demographic that we're playing to." First and foremost, Wigens hopes the tour will inspire attendance from people who never would have come to a dance performance otherwise.

As for what fans can expect from the tour, Wigens says the live show includes memorable performances from the TV show, interspersed with video footage, among other things. "It's very different," he said. "It's a very, very exciting show."

One thing about the tour that is truly different from the television show is that the performers can finally relax a little. After all, there is no judges panel on the tour; no Nigel Lythgoe or Mary Murphy waiting in the wings to either praise or bash each number.

Finally, the dancers aren't competing. "We've got 10 winners up there," said Wigens, adding, "and what an achievement when you consider the number of people who audition."

Since the Top 10 are all winners in the eyes of the "Dance" tour, Wigens sees the tour as a celebration of sorts. "We like to think that the tour is a culmination," he explained. "We try to make it as fun as it's possible to be." But when he elaborates on the demands of the touring schedule, "fun" isn't the first word that comes to mind.

"We're typically looking at five shows a week, which means you're looking at doing a run of two and a run of three," said Wigens. "They're traveling at night every night after the performance, they have an early start on show days because they have to deal with press, they have to warm up, they have sponsorship responsibilities, and that adds up to a long day. It's very, very demanding," admitted Wigens.

The crew is prepared for any discomfort that could arise from such a demanding schedule; there is always a medic and a masseuse on hand. "These aren't affectations," Wigens said. "They're essential."

Despite the rigors of touring, however, Wigens said that performers always adapt quickly. "It's very surprising how quickly people slip into that lifestyle," he said. Plus, he was happy to report, "we've never, touch wood, had any people who get homesick or decide 'This isn't the life for me.' "

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