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The new season of So You Think You Can Dance does not have a special theme, but the first audition episode has already proven that the series is breaking boundaries yet again. Get ready for the Drag Race crossover you never knew you needed in the Season 15 premiere of So You Think You Can Dance. In the June 4 episode, Jay Jackson’s So You Think You Can Dance audition brings drag to the show in a new way, and the result of that audition means that the art form could be sticking around for a while in this competition.
Jackson, who performs under the stage name Laganja Estranja (or just Miss Estranja, since Fox is likely trying to avoid the marijuana reference) showed up to the audition in full drag. The panel of judges was mostly blown away, especially by that death drop, but Nigel needed a little convincing and Jackson only got three "yes" responses — which is enough to move on to the Academy.
Estranja happens to be a former RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant as well, who came in eighth place in Season 6. Fans already know some of Jackson’s history from that series. His parents contacted him during the filming of Drag Race to tell him they supported his drag career.
However, one thing that So You Think You Can Dance absolutely does not do is drama. On this reality show, it’s all about the competition and the talent on the floor. So Jackson will have to take that competitive edge and leave the rest of it at the door, should he stick around. Estranja wasn’t exactly a villain on Drag Race in the traditional reality television sense, but she definitely didn’t get along with every other queen.
“When I first started this," Estranja said about drag performance in a 2017 interview with NewNowNext, "I wanted to be just a tongue-popping, death-dropping queen. And now I really would like to move into a place of art-making and creating pieces that make people think or maybe make people uncomfortable.” And participating on So You Think You Can Dance, both as a drag performer and as an artist experimenting with other forms in the midst of a competition, is definitely one way to achieve that.
"I wish I woke up like this," Jackson said before taking the stage, talking about how he had trouble getting cast and fitting in as a dancer. Embracing drag evidently changed everything. Of the judges panel, Hudgens and tWitch in particular are completely on board with the audition. Check out the full clip:
Will Jackson do the academy — and hopefully the whole competition — in drag, or not? At Laganja’s Dance School, the classes Jackson teaches, he’s out of drag save for the occasional high heel, which is necessary to teach the form. It seems likely that the show will play around with incorporating some of Estranja’s style, hopefully with some of the other dancers as well.
Drag is a relatively new form for So You Think You Can Dance. The show has explored dance subcultures, such as waacking, krump/animation, martial arts fusion, and popping. Anyone else slightly surprised that Nigel knew the correct terminology for Jackson’s signature move? It’s possible that the contestants didn’t make it to air, but fans have never seen another queen audition for the series.
Honestly, with the continued popularity of Drag Race and the emergence of new shows, such as Pose on FX, it’s about time for this style to join the SYTYCD spotlight. In Season 14 of the Fox series, the Top 8 and the All-Stars did a drag-inspired group dance to RuPaul’s "Call Me Mother," and it was a huge smash.
Hopefully Miss Estranja continues on the series and Jackson’s full set of dance skills are finally put to task on television. One of the enduring charms of So You Think You Can Dance is how it evens the playing field for performers from different dance backgrounds and specialization. This new contender is just opening up another chapter.
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