JoJo Siwa to Replace Nigel Lythgoe on “So You Think You Can Dance” After Sexual Assault Allegations

Earlier this month, Lythgoe announced he would be stepping down from his long-standing position as judge

<p>Maarten de Boer/ABC via Getty</p> JoJo Siwa

Maarten de Boer/ABC via Getty

JoJo Siwa

JoJo Siwa is returning to the So You Think You Can Dance judging panel to replace Nigel Lythgoe in season 18.

Fox issued a press release on Friday announcing that the Dance Moms alum, 20, will join Allison Holker and Makism Chmerkovskiy on the judging panel for a reimagined season that seeks to reflect the "authentic experience of building a successful career in dance."

Emmy-nominated host Cat Deeley will once again emcee the dance competition show, a post she has held since 2006.

Friday's release also promised fans will get a "documentary-style look" at the contestants' lives as they vie for the ultimate $100,000 grand prize that comes with being crowned winner of So You Think You Can Dance season 18.

Related: Paula Abdul Sues American Idol, SYTYCD Executive Producer Nigel Lythgoe for Alleged Sexual Assault

<p>Phillip Faraone/Getty</p> Nigel Lythgoe

Phillip Faraone/Getty

Nigel Lythgoe

News of Siwa's return comes shortly after Lythgoe announced he would be stepping down from the long-running dance series following sexual assault allegations earlier this month.

"I have informed the producers of So You Think You Can Dance of my decision to step back from participating in this year’s series," the television personality, 74, told Variety. "I did so with a heavy heart but entirely voluntarily because this great program has always been about dance and dancers, and that’s where its focus needs to remain. In the meantime, I am dedicating myself to clearing my name and restoring my reputation.”

Related: Nigel Lythgoe Sued for Alleged Sexual Assault by 2 Reality Show Contestants amid Ongoing Paula Abdul Suit

On Dec. 30, Paula Abdul, 61, accused the longtime dance judge of sexually assaulting her on two occasions when they both worked on American Idol in the early 2000s and SYTYCD in 2015.

Shortly after the news broke, Lythgoe responded to her claims and denied all allegations in a statement given to TMZ.

"To say that I am shocked and saddened by the allegations made against me by Paula Abdul is a wild understatement," he said. "For more than two decades, Paula and I have interacted as dear, and entirely platonic, friends and colleagues."

Noting that he learned of Abdul's accusations "out of the blue" through the press, Lythgoe continued, "I want to be clear: not only are they false, they are deeply offensive to me and to everything I stand for. ... I can’t pretend to understand exactly why she would file a lawsuit that she must know is untrue. But I can promise that I will fight this appalling smear with everything I have."

Related: Allison Holker Boss and Maks Chmerkovskiy Join Season 18 of So You Think You Can Dance as Judges



Siwa made her judging debut in season 17 alongside Glee Matthew Morrison and late SYTYCD favorite Stephen "tWitch" Boss, who died at age 40 in December 2022.

Siwa celebrated the news of her judging debut with a commemorative post shared to Instagram at the time.

"FINALLY!…. 'So You Think You Can Dance' is coming to FOX this summer and I am so grateful that I am going to be a judge!" Siwa wrote. "It's such an honor to be a part of this shows come back!!!"

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So You Think You Can Dance season 18 premieres March 4 at 9 p.m. ET on Fox and can be streamed the next day on Hulu.

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