The stars of World of Dance know they’re entering a crowded space — Dancing With the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance have been showcasing minor celebrities and nonprofessional dancers, respectively, on network TV since 2005. World of Dance’s formula for luring in viewers during the sleepy summertime ratings season: star power, and no amateurs. Judges Jennifer Lopez, Ne-Yo and Derek Hough (plus host-mentor Jenna Dewan Tatum) will critique top-notch dancers from around the globe. “We’re not sifting through rounds of people,” says Dewan Tatum. “We’ve brought the best of the best in episode one.” Before World of Dance debuts May 30 on NBC (with America’s Got Talent as a highly rated lead-in), the judges break down four selling points of the competition.
Lopez, who has been dancing since the age of 5, initially signed on as an executive producer last May before giving herself a seat at the judges table. “People know me and enjoy me in this role,” says the former American Idol moderator. “I have a lot to say about dance and could help get some eyeballs on it.”
An Olympics-style system comprises five different categories: performance, creativity, technique, choreography and presentation. Of course, the judges will have varying perspectives. Ne-Yo says that Lopez and Hough “are a lot more technical than I am. I go off the feel and passion.”
The “world” in the title is literal. Says Lopez: “Whereas other dance shows here have been local, we have people competing from New Zealand, Brazil, Ireland and South Korea.” Many contestants already have made waves in their scenes, like Les Twins, French twin brothers who have worked with Beyoncé.
Take the typical $250,000 cash prize of So You Think You Can Dance and quadruple it: The World of Dance winner will earn a cool million bucks. “There has never been an opportunity like this for a dancer,” says Lopez. “I used to make $50 to be in a rap video. With this, the dancers create a brand for themselves.”