Five Utahns and a former Utahn will compete on two nationally televised dance competitions this week — three on NBC’s “Dancing With Myself” and two on Fox’s “So You Think You “Can Dance.”
That sounds like a lot … but we should be used to it by now. Utah has been overrepresented in dance competitions for many years.
“Dancing With Myself”
“Dancing With Myself” (Tuesday, 9 p.m., NBC/Ch. 5) features dancers from around the country who have gone viral with their online dance videos. This week’s local contestants are:
• Tia Stokes, a mother of five who has been battling cancer for more than two years, and is actually known as the “Cancer Dancer.” In addition to her dance studios in Orem and St. George, she has a large following on TikTok — 2.6 million followers — where she shares her story.
• Jake Taylor-Baumann and Sean Taylor-Baumann — known on TikTok (where they have 1.7 million followers) as “daddiestothree” — were raised as members of The Church of Jesus are of Latter-day Saints, and they met while they were each trying to “pray the gay away.” They married in 2016 and became the fathers of triplets (Wren, Winston and Willow) born via surrogacy in 2021.
• Ricky Pond, a father of four, is originally from Garland (in Box Elder County) and now lives in Washington state. He dances to Bollywood music in his TikTok videos, which started going viral during the pandemic. He has more than 850,000 followers. His videos often feature his son, Dallin, and he wears a Utah Jazz jersey in several of them.
Camille Costek is the host, and Shakira, Nick Jonas and Liza Koshy are the coaches/judges. But they don’t want to be called either coaches — they want to be called “creators,” and they do actually choreograph the challenges.
Each contestant is in a box/aka “pod” onstage, and they all dance at the same time, for the most part. There are six rounds of competition — the studio audience selects its favorites and the judges … er, uh, creators … “save” a couple of contestants in each of the first four rounds.
The winner takes home $25,000. And each episode is self-contained — there is no overall champion; contestants appear in just one episode.
There were two Utahns on the show last week: Fitness instructor Nikol Knudson, who made it to the top four, and her mother, Michelle, who was eliminated in the first round.
“So You Think You Can Dance”
Two of the 12 finalists on season 17 of “So You Think You Can Dance” are from Utah — but that shouldn’t surprise anyone. There have been a lot of local dancers on this competition over the years — way back in season 4, there were four finalists from Utah.
Season 17 was originally scheduled for 2020, but was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Cat Deely is back as the host, but there’s a new judging panel — Stephen “tWitch” Boss, Jojo Siwa and Leah Remini are the judges. Remini replaced Matthew Morrison (”Glee”), who was dropped because he “did not follow production protocols” and that prevented him from “being able to judge the competition fairly,” he said. Reportedly, he reached out to a female dancer who is a contestant on the show because he “was trying to help her get a job.” He denied there was anything inappropriate between himself and the contestant.
They changed up (and shortened) the format of “SYTYCD” a bit this season, but beginning with this week’s episode (Wednesday, 8 p.m., Fox/Ch. 13), viewers will once again vote for their favorite dancers and those with the fewest votes will be eliminated.
This season’s Utah finalists are:
• Carter Williams, 20, a Latin/ballroom dancer from Sandy, is no newcomer to nationally televised talent competitions. He was on seasons 1 and 2 of “World of Dance” and seasons 9, 10 and 11 of “America’s Got Talent.”
• Alexis Barr, 22, a Latin/ballroom dancer from Orem, is also a veteran of television talent competitions. She was on season 2 of “World of Dance” and seasons 8 and 9 of “America’s Got Talent.”
Editor’s note • This story is available to Salt Lake Tribune subscribers only. Thank you for supporting local journalism.