The “So You Think You Can Dance Tour 2009” made its way into the heart of the Arena District Thursday night with a live performance at Nationwide Arena.

The tour, which kicked off in Manchester, N.H., Sept. 20, will make stops in 40 cities between September and November, 2009.

The tour is based off the hit television show that has aired more than 100 episodes, has been nominated for 11 Emmy Awards over the last three years and has just begun its sixth season.

The show can be compared to similar programs like “American Idol” and “Dancing With the Stars” because the contestants compete by performing and are then judged by the selected panel.

In “So You Think You Can Dance,” the top 20 finalists are chosen by the judges, Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy, as well as a variety of guest judges. The judges and the viewers then work together to choose the top ten. After this point, America takes the reins by voting for its favorite competitor in order to decide who deserves the title of America’s Favorite Dancer.

The top 12 contestants from the fifth season are hitting the road this fall and putting on quite a show for their fans. Last season’s winner, 18-year-old Jeanine Mason, who received a $250,000 cash prize as well as the opportunity to be on the cover of November’s Dance Spirit magazine, will also be included.

During the performance, each dancer performs a solo as well as multiple group dances. The show consists of more than 40 exciting routines and can last anywhere between two and three hours depending on the crowd and the applause.

Many of these men and women have been dreaming of performing and finding success as a dancer their whole lives. Some even began the journey by taking ballet, tap and jazz classes as young as 3 years old.
Not all the contestants have been attending classes since they were toddlers, though. Phillip Chbeeb, one of the top 12 finalists, began dancing at the age of 15, which is considered much later than most of the other dancers. His family didn’t have the money to enroll him in formal classes when he was young, but this did not stop Chbeeb from getting involved by using dance as a creative outlet.

This success did not come easy to many; some auditioned two or even three seasons before they finally made it to the finals in the fifth season.

“I didn’t go in wanting to win the competition; I didn’t have any expectations,” said 21-year-old Jason Glover, who made it to the top eight in the fifth season. “I just wanted to see how far I could go, and after I made top 20, I just thought, ‘OK, I can do this now.'”

The dancers agreed that one of the most challenging aspects of the show was learning to interact with the camera by dancing their hearts out during the competition but then really showing off their fun and unique personalities offstage. They stressed that it was important to find this balance in order to be successful on the show.

The tour continued on its way as they packed up right after the Columbus performance and headed to their next stop. The tour’s next performance in Ohio is Oct. 10 at Lucas County Arena in Toledo.

Look for the sixth season of “So You Think You Can Dance” in its first fall season on Fox.