NBC's new dance-off is no 'amateur hour'

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NBC is putting some Olympic-style competition back in primetime with a new dance series from the producers of "American Idol" and "So You Think You Can Dance."

The reality program will feature professional dancers from eight countries exhibiting different performance styles. "Lord of the Dance's" Michael Flatley will host, and Nigel Lythgoe and Simon Fuller will executive produce.

"We've always wanted to be in the dance business, but the question was how to be unique and different," said Craig Plestis, executive vp alternative programming, development and specials at NBC. "Our show makes every other dance show seem like amateur hour. We got the best of the best. Americans will be blown away when they see what real professionals can do."

Given the success of ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" and Fox's "So You Think You Can Dance," Lythgoe said he was skeptical about launching another dance show. Once Fuller explained the Olympics hook, however, he was sold.

"It's the 'Olympic Games of dance' — everybody gets it right away," Lythgoe said. "Dancing has taken off in this country, (and) the Olympics took off in this country; here we're bringing them both together. It's not just celebrities and their partners trying to dance or young people attempting to be great dancers. These are the great dancers."

Each country's team will present two dance soloists, a duet and a group. Their performances will be graded by judges from each participating country.

The judges have a tricky job as each country will perform in a style unique to their culture —Shaolin monks from China vs. Bollywood dancers from India, for example. Troupes from Ireland, the U.S., Argentina, Russia, Australia and South Africa also are represented.

NBC is launching the series early next year. Nine hours are ordered, and the plan is to air four two-hour episodes and a one-hour finale. Several titles have been considered, with "Dance Masters of the World" and "Superstar Dancers of the World" as two of the top contenders.

The series will be the first title produced by Lythgoe and Fuller's new company, Big Red 2 Entertainment. NBC also is a producer on the series, whose international flair could result in an improved shot at overseas distribution. (partialdiff)
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