• Kristyn Burtt

Should Networks Revise Reality Competition Show Contracts for Dancers?

Updated: Jul 15


There are so many opportunities these days for dancers on television. For anyone who wants to try the reality competition route, they can audition for everything from So You Think You Can Dance to CBS' newest entry, The World's Best. With growth, though, comes growing pains as well.


More: Tom Bergeron Was the Heart of 'Dancing With the Stars'


Many dancers are finding themselves stuck in a lengthy reality competition show contract after their season has ended. This is standard across the board with the networks. For example, World of Dance commits their talent to one year after the season finale has aired. For any contestant who did Season 2, which ended Sept. 12, 2018, their contract with NBC runs through Sept. 12, 2019.


This non-compete clause keeps them off other competition shows for a full cycle. On the business end, NBC is protecting its brand. On the practical end for a dancer, the contract is a gamble. The window of opportunity for dancers is an unknown quantity since the reality of being injured always exists.


It feels similar to a rule in gymnastics where the athletes are forced to choose the professional track of making money to support their training en route to the Olympics or stay amateur so they can get a scholarship for an NCAA team. It's a really tough decision.


More: 'World of Dance' Competitors Ellie & Ava Shine a Light on "The Larkin Legacy"


Do you take the opportunity to do World of Dance and wait a full season out and hope that So You Think You Can Dance gets picked up for another season? It's not an easy decision to make because each show offers a wealth of opportunities and different types of exposure. Two different sources who did Season 1 on World of Dance told me they couldn't even cross over to NBC's sister show America's Got Talent. They had to ride out their contract first.


The one big thing the network is missing is the fact that dance audiences are loyal. They will discover talent on one show and follow them to the next show to support them. That's exactly what happened when fans fell in love with Kevin "Konkrete" Davis during the Academy on Season 14 of SYTYCD. He had an epic final dance battle against Kiki Nyemchek and All-Star Jenna Johnson had to make the difficult and dramatic final decision.


Konkrete rebounded into Season 2 on World of Dance with BDash, where they brought the art of Krumping to a whole new audience. Many SYTYCD fans made sure to watch World of Dance specifically because he was on the show. They wanted to watch the second part of Konkrete's story.


[Editor's Note: Exclusivity contracts for SYTYCD begin with the live shows. That is why Konkrete could do SYTYCD through the Academy and then Season 2 of World of Dance. There was no legal conflict.]


More: Was ‘So You Think You Can Dance: The Next Generation’ Ahead Of Its Time?


The networks probably won't budge on changing the fundamentals of their contracts because they are used across the board. However, we have seen exceptions to the rules made when they aren't contestants anymore.


Dancing with the Stars worked with SYTYCD to get Witney Carson and Lindsay Arnold on Season 16 right after the SYTYCD tour ended. Fik-Shun also told Dance Network that Nigel Lythgoe went to bat for him so he could be an All-Star on Season 14 of SYTYCD even though he had just taped Season 1 of World of Dance.


These are the exceptions, though, not the rules.


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