It’s almost not shocking anymore. From week to week, we turn our televisions to Fox, prepared to take in another awesome episode of So You Think You Can Dance during this relatively solid season. But then, while watching the dancers’ introduction, we realize there’s one dancer missing from the pack. When Alex Freaking Wong injured his Achilles tendon two weeks ago — forcing him to bow out long before his time — it seemed a tragic anomaly. Then last week, Ashley Galvan hurt her rib, which led to her elimination. And as soon as Nigel announced Billy Bell had suffered a knee injury last night, it was clear: There’s something afoot in SYTYCD land.
Yes, we’ve seen injuries before on the show. (See: season 6’s Noelle and Ashleigh, season 4’s Jessica.) It comes with the territory — you don’t execute awe-inspiring lifts and ceiling-high jumps without knowing there are risks involved. But the fact that Billy’s knee problem marks the third injury in a row on this season of SYTYCD makes it impossible not to ask: Is the show simply working its cast too hard this year?
As we’ve seen in seasons past, dancers weren’t required to perform solos during the performance episode until week 6 and didn’t have to tackle two-partner pieces in one episode until week 8 or 9. But, surely in an attempt to amp up the action during this game-changing season, SYTYCD‘s producers have altered the seemingly set-in-stone schedule: By week 3, season 7’s contestants were dancing solos and a partner routine. By week 4, they were dancing two-partner routines. And by week 6 — this week — they were dancing solos and two partner routines. Add on top of all that the choreographed group number that airs during every Thursday results show, and you’ve got four numbers per week per dancer, at least two of which will likely demand death (or at least injury)-defying moves. Really, looking at that kind of schedule, it seems inevitable that a handful of dancers would succumb to a sprain, twist, or fracture.
When I spoke to Ashley last week, she did mention that they were working hard, but adrenaline kept them from feeling overwhelmed: “We’re going through a lot…[but] we don’t think about it being too much, because we have so much adrenaline pumping and we’re so excited [about] learning new routines that we really don’t realize if we’re injured or not.” And though the contestants might not recognize the looming threat of injury — thanks to their pure excitement — you’d hope that Fox and SYTYCD‘s producers have. (After all, we all watched Nigel address the numerous injuries this season during last night’s show.) The network has yet to respond to EW’s calls for comment regarding the injuries this season, but I’m about to say something I thought I never would: Here’s hoping SYTYCD follows in Dancing With the Stars‘ footsteps. Why? When Dancing With the Stars experienced their all-time injury high during season 8 of the show, producers reached out to experts, who helped formulate a rehearsal schedule that would help cast members reduce their chances of getting injured. Of course, while DWTS is dealing with celebrities who have barely executed a tendu in their lifetimes, SYTYCD boasts a group of contestants that are already accustomed to arduous rehearsals. Still, after watching the show the past three weeks, let’s cross our fingers that the kids take it easy over the next month. After all, a couple more injuries, and there won’t be enough dancers left to lead us into the Aug. 12 finale.