But Is It Good for Dance? ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ at 15

“It made contemporary dance a commercial art form,” Ms. Michaels said of the show. And that stormy, sensual style has come to dominate dance in film, TV and in music videos, as well as on the sizable competition dance circuit, where many “So You Think” alumni teach.

It hasn’t, however, made much of a dent in the more conceptual concert dance world, where the show is sometimes dismissed as an empty-calorie snack for its flashy production and flash-in-the-pan-length numbers. “Those bite-sized pieces of work, it’s a craft in itself,” Ms. Michaels said. “Just because it’s a commercial dance show doesn’t mean that you’re not an artist.” Others in the concert dance world applaud the show’s contribution to the broader dance ecosystem.

“Dancing is normalized through these mediums,” said Damian Woetzel, the former New York City Ballet star. Mr. Woetzel, the incoming president of Juilliard, is also the director of the Vail International Dance Festival, where he curated a “Dance TV” series for five years that featured stars from TV dance competitions, including Mr. Wong. “So You Think” has facilitated “an active conversation” about dance,” Mr. Woetzel said, and “it leads young people into the field.” Especially boys, he added.

That was clear to Sabetha Mumm, who founded a dance studio in Johnston, Iowa, in 2003. (Her son participated in “So You Think” Season 13, subtitled “The Next Generation,” in which competitors were 8 to 13 years old.) The show has driven demand for dance in her region, Ms. Mumm said, providing aspiring professional dancers outside of urban dance hubs “so many more people to look up to.” She frequently invites former contestants to teach workshops there.

Ms. Mumm’s studio is now populated almost entirely by a generation of dancers who grew up on “So You Think.” The show has influenced the way they think about the art form perhaps as much as what takes place in their dance classes: In the hallways, they rewatch “So You Think” routines on YouTube, debate their favorite dancers and discuss the choreographers they dream of working with. “It’s their version of the water cooler conversation,” Ms. Mumm said.

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