So You Think You Can Dance host Carrie Bickmore is hoping she doesn't fall flat on her face (again)
So you want to get Carrie Bickmore dancing? Easy done – if you have DJ Jazzy Jeff and Will Smith's 'Boom! Shake the Room' on your iPod. The two-time Gold Logie nominee tells Time Out she's always first to the dancefloor at any wedding, and 'Boom' "is the one that gets me every time." That, or anything by Beyonce or the Jackson Five. Just what moves does B-girl Bickmore bust when the DJ plays her favourite room-shakers? "When I was 18 and me and my girlfriends were nightclubbing we'd drop to the floor, all three of us in a circle. But I try not to pull it out too much now – it depends on how many Champagnes I've had."
Whether we get to see the 'Bickmore drop' on the relaunched So You Think You Can Dance remains to be seen. They're down to the top 20 finalists when we speak – and the much-anticipated live performance shows – and so far, no drop from the show's host. For Bickmore, who rose to the nation's attention as the unflappable and quip-happy news anchor on Rove and then as the centrepiece of Channel Ten's The Project, the new gig combines two passions: reality TV and dance. "I did ballet for years and years growing up in Perth," says Bickmore. "I always thought that, 'You know, I might end up dancing for a career,' but I'm so glad I didn't because I never had the talent."
Her passion for reality TV comes as a viewer. "I love seeing people and seeing who they are and what their life stories are. So You Think You Can Dance used to be on and I remember speaking to my manager and saying, 'I love that show – I'd love to work on it one day.' When the opportunity came up, I was like, 'I finally get to work on the show I've always loved!" But working on a TV show that draws its tension from a weekly cull – "I'm sorry Tim, you are not the So You Think You Can Dance champion – can tug at a fan's heart. "I started to get to know a few of the dancers [in the audition stages]," says Bickmore, who had her son Oliver in 2007. "There's a couple of the younger dancers I felt a bit motherly towards, a bit protective over. But I said to myself, you can't get too attached Carrie or you're going to be a blubbering mess every week!"
The judging panel this year includes local dancers and choreographers Shannon Holtzapffel, Jason Gilkison, Aaron Cash and, in a coup, American choreographer, pop star and serial talent show judge Paula Abdul. Abdul and Bickmore "get along like a house on fire," says the host, who plans to show Abdul the Sydney sites. When we ask whether we can expect to see some of Abdul's famously kooky shenanigans during the live shows – viewers of American Idol often speculated Abdul had more than soft drink in her giant Coca-Cola cup – Bickmore reveals nothing. "I never watchedAmerican Idol so I didn't really know much of that, but from the encounters I've had she seems absolutely pleasant."
So You Think You Can Dance Mark 2 arrives under a lot of pressure to succeed – especially after the spectacular (and spectacularly brief) failure ofEverybody Dance Now, the Channel Ten dance show starring Jason DeRülo and Kelly Rowland. That series arrived in the wake of a mammoth marketing blitz, just as SYTYCD has, but was laughed off TV after four episodes. It's been a while since Ten has been able to hold its own in the talent show wars now dominated by The X-Factor, Dancing with the Starsand Australia's Got Talent. Has any of that pressure landed on the host's shoulders? "Every show I've been involved in from radio to TV, I've felt pressure to do a good job and a lot of that has been internal from myself. There are lot of singing shows around, and there are a lot of dancing shows around, but there's room for lots because we're a country that loves to sing and dance."
Bickmore takes a similar attitude to questions about the challenges of live, high-stakes TV – her entire career has been about being live on-air, though she does have her fingers crossed for no Sarah Murdoch moments. "I had to dance at our Year 12 assembly at one of the big centres in Perth and I had to do this big jump at the end – I landed on my face! I was like, 'Shit!', and I just looked up and put my hand in the air like it was my finishing pose on the ground. Everyone just clapped. It was obvious that I had stuffed it up but it was funny because that's kind of what it's like doing live TV: some things just fall flat and you have to turn around and say, 'Up you go again.' It was a good learning experience, and it looked good on the DVD."