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  • Writer's pictureKristyn Burtt

Before It Even Premieres, 'World of Dance' is Breathing New Life into Dance Competition Shows

Updated: Apr 11, 2020

When NBC announced on July 19, 2016, that it was teaming up with Jennifer Lopez for a new dance competition series, everyone paid attention. If anyone is going to rewrite the model of Dancing With the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance, it was going to be JLo and so far, she hasn’t disappointed.

Her first big move was to align herself with the Emmy Award-winning choreography team, Napoleon and Tabitha D’umo, AKA NappyTabs. The duo has extended their dance-related capabilities beyond choreography and now serves as co-executive producers on the show.

For the judging panel, NBC wisely decided to keep Derek Hough in the network fold by offering him a spot on the show. Executives knew when they signed him for Hairspray Live there was an opportunity to lure him away from ABC.

It was pretty evident in Season 23 that Hough was a bit restless, so he seized the moment when it was presented to him. With a panel of JLo, Hough and Ne-Yo, it’s already a win for the show.

The format itself also is a fresh take from what we’ve seen in the past on dance competition shows. WOD is taking on the duel. With three divisions and a wide variety of ages and dance styles, this is going to be something TV viewers have never seen before.

The show has already identified the four categories the dancers will judge on — Routine, Execution, Presentation and Crowd Appeal. Hopefully, this level of transparency helps the audience understand the criteria better than DWTS, which seems very subjective with the judging these days.

The final piece to the puzzle is the host. As I mentioned on Twitter, the producers held auditions for a non-celebrity host. There were a few people in serious contention when NBC did an about-face and announced Jenna Dewan Tatum. It’s the perfect fit for the show given Dewan Tatum’s dance history, but it also makes me think the producers auditioned other talent in case contract negotiations didn’t work out with the actress.

The first promo is out and the show will premiere in the spring. The original timeline given to the contestants and me was late January to early February, which now makes sense since the first taping is Monday, Jan. 16.

As for the contestants, I have two names that my source asked me not to reveal. However, I can say that the talent in these two dancers is extraordinary. If the rest of the group matches their capabilities, we are in for a real treat.

With the JLo touch, WOD is proving that you can rewrite a format that feels a bit dusty. Dance is looking for its next big star; hopefully, WOD will deliver exactly that. 


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