In Jennifer Lopez’s ‘World of Dance,’ the Dancers Are the Stars

That trajectory comes full circle with “World of Dance,” a new reality dance competition for which she is an executive producer and the lead judge. The show, which is to have its premiere Tuesday, May 30, on NBC, features 47 acts from around the world battling in divisions based on age (the youngest is 9) and group size (from soloists to large troupes). Division winners will compete for the modest title of Best in the World.

That definitive-sounding honor and the tournament-like format go hand in hand with the sports metaphors that Ms. Lopez and others regularly used in talking about the show, citing its athleticism, sense of drama and physical risk. “We had broken bones on the show; we had injuries and emotional breakdowns,” she said. (Several of the show’s creators call it “the Olympics of dance” and refer to contestants as “artistic athletes.”)

Unlike the popular television dance competition “So You Think You Can Dance,” which challenges contestants to perform a variety of styles in routines created by a roster of choreographers, the competitors on “World of Dance” perform their own routines in their preferred styles. And unlike “Dancing With the Stars,” which pairs celebrities with professional ballroom dancers, “World of Dance” features only dancers: no football players, washed-up politicians or former Playboy bunnies.

“My whole goal with this show was to create an opportunity and a venue for dancers to actually be the stars,” Ms. Lopez said, and to get to do something they rarely have a chance to do: “really make some money.”

The grand prize is a staggering $1 million. As Meredith Ahr, president of Universal Television Alternative Studio and a producer of the show, said, “Having a prize that was meaningful and life-changing was very important.”


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