Photo Credit: Jordan Abrantes
The landscape of dance-competition shows is about to change with NBC’s entrée, World of Dance. It’s important to realize that while the concept is new for a television show, World of Dance is already a recognizable brand in the dance industry.
A visit to the Los Angeles stop of the World of Dance Tour demonstrates a movement in the hip-hop industry that has been going on since 2008. It’s a place where dancers of all ages, backgrounds and ethnicities join together to share their love of dance and support each other through music and art.
The brand has extended beyond the United States and now encompasses live events in over 25 countries along with a healthy 30-million views a month on YouTube. It’s a natural fit for the upcoming show featuring Jennifer Lopez, Derek Hough, Ne-Yo and host Jenna Dewan Tatum.
David Gonzalez, who founded World of Dance [WOD], partnered up with Matthew Everitt and Herman Flores to expand the brand into a global sensation. Dance Network spoke with Gonzalez and Everitt at the LA event.
Photo credit: Jordan Abrantes
“The first event I went to was amazing. You see people of all ethnicities, all ages, shoulder to shoulder sharing this passion for something,” says Everitt. “And today the world is divided, but dance is something that brings everyone together.”
The explosion of social media boosted their growth, with platforms like YouTube and Instagram favored by the dance community. WOD has helped emerging dancers as much as social media influencers have helped WOD grow.
“It’s a very symbiotic relationship and we need each other,” explains Gonzalez. “Sometimes dancers view World of Dance as the client and other times, dancers view us as the opportunity. I don’t believe there is another platform that supports dance in the same kind of a way.”
The team knew they were ready to take WOD to an even bigger stage — television. The TV series came together through a series of well-timed connections, which played a huge part in getting the green light from NBCUniversal.
Thanks to Paul Telegdy, President of Alternative and Reality Group at NBCUniversal, the network started searching for a dance platform. He was familiar with this genre because he spearheaded Dancing With the Stars for BBC Worldwide America back in 2005 and knew the audience was there.
WOD then signed a development deal with the network and everything fell into place once they brought in Jennifer Lopez and her manager, Benny Medina, into the fold. Lopez was enthusiastic about bringing the brand to an even bigger level.
“Benny, Jennifer and Nuyorican Productions [JLo’s production company] all want to do good for the dancers. That was important to us in our conversations with NBC,” says Everitt. “WOD is this movement that built the brand and we have to honor our brand values and core audiences. We built the show for them to love in addition to bringing in Sally from Wisconsin.”
Photo credit: Dance Network/Kristyn Burtt
Once the show was set in place, it was time to wrangle celebrity judges. Derek Hough was one of the first talents NBCUniversal approached to participate in their new venture.
“He is a very charismatic and talented individual. We have been blown away by him — not just on the TV show,” shares Everitt. “He came to our Industry Awards show in February, which means a lot for the community to see talent get involved. He’s been fantastic.”
Positivity reigns supreme when it comes to talk of a second season before the show has even debuted. From NBCUniversal’s Summer Press Day to the World of Dance Tour, talent and crew are optimistic that this show is a hit.
“Everyone we’ve talked to at NBC has said they’ve never seen the commitment like this from the network on a show’s first season. A lot of that has to do with Jennifer’s influence, the support of Paul [Telegdy] and Meredith Ahr [President of Universal Television Alternative Studio], who love dance and they think it’s the right time for a new dance show,” Everitt says. “This is the Olympics of dance.”
The debut was pushed back to Tuesday, May 30, but NBC has a good reason. They are pairing it with perennial ratings juggernaut, America’s Got Talent, to have that television block filled with talent-driven shows each week.
It’s a show that dance fans are ready for and the suspense over how the categories of dancers will work, and who wins remains a mystery until then.
Gonzalez sums up, “I will tell you for sure that when the series unfolds and you see how it works — every level youth, adult, crew — they are all worthy of that $1 million prize.”