Marking a change in direction, the Academy of Television Arts & Science included the Choreography category in the upcoming 65 th Primetime Emmy broadcast. That’s good news for Sonya Tayeh, an Emmy-nominated choreographer whose work graces the reality show “So You Think You Can Dance.”
Tayeh, along with the other nominees, will also create a dance number built around host Neil Patrick Harris. Reached by phone in New York City, Tayeh talked about her nomination and how “So You Think You Can Dance” has made a change in both her life and the lives of viewers.
Does the inclusion of choreography on the Primetime Emmys indicate that the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences is now recognizing the influence of dance on TV?
I think it took some time, but I think “So You Think You Can Dance” really opened a door for all walks of life to appreciate and fall in love with dancing. It’s amazing-I get compliments from so many versatile people in the world that it affected them or they saw this piece and they took their first dance class. It’s amazing that the masses appreciate dance now and understand it.
I think it is opening up a door for people who want to try to dance-or it’s brought something into their life that they want to change. It inspired them to do something that they are in love with. That show has completely changed my life.
A lot of people may hear that they are too old to dance or have two left feet, but now they see that it’s okay to go out there and try.
It’s never too late to try. And dancing is such a beautiful release. I think people are afraid to try or that they should excel at it so fast. But it’s a process, an amazing process.
Watching the contestants on “SYTYCD” is amazing. It looks as if they have no bones in their bodies with some of the moves that they make.
It’s pretty crazy at what they can do, but again, it’s the training. When a dancer embraces that this is a lifestyle-a habit-instead of something they kind of do, when they fall in love with dancing, the possibilities with what they can do with their bodies is pretty endless.
Most of the time, [the choreographers] haven’t met them before; we don’t know what they can do. We throw them into this rehearsal so fast, and they do such an amazing job because they want it so bad. They are eager, and anytime you have a desire and you try, you can surprise yourself.
[Watch one of Sonya Tayeh’s Emmy-nominated routines: “Possibly Maybe”
Is working with the dancers on “SYTYCD” more challenging than working with professional performers? Your bio shows you have worked on tour with Miley Cyrus and Kylie Minogue.
It depends. If the tour is specific, if I am directing it or choreographing it, I will usually get a guide from the director. It’s pretty collaborative. I am able to voice my opinion on what will work and what wouldn’t work, the way I think they could do it. Things they should stay away from and how to be fresh.