Ana Langenberg, the senior VP of format sales and production at NBCUniversal International Formats, talks about the various versions of World of Dance around the globe.
Positioned as “the Olympics of dance,” featuring the top echelon of performers from all across the globe, World of Dance sambaed its way into a second season this spring on NBC in the U.S. The series is executive produced by Jennifer Lopez, who also serves as a judge alongside Ne-Yo and Derek Hough. The show puts the spotlight on dance performers—including solo acts and large groups, representing any style of dance—who are competing for a grand prize of $1 million. It was ordered for a third season by NBC before the second even launched.
The format, which hails from Universal Television Alternative Studio and is distributed by NBCUniversal (NBCU) International Formats, is finding momentum in the global marketplace as well. The first commission for a local version came from Thailand, where the show has been produced for one31. The Philippines came on board next, with that treatment currently in production for ABS-CBN. Poland followed shortly thereafter, and a local World of Dance series is currently shooting for Polsat to launch in the autumn. “We’re in discussion in a few other countries as well,” shares Ana Langenberg, the senior VP of format sales and production at NBCU International Formats. “Having a second season that is doing well in the U.S. and a third season already announced certainly helps the momentum.”
As the format travels globally, a close eye is being kept on making sure that the judging panels have the same level of star power and credibility as the U.S. original. “That’s absolutely crucial to the format,” says Langenberg. “We say that the show features the best of the best, so they have to be judged by people who know about dancing and how difficult it is to achieve a level of expertise and perfection; they must appreciate the complexity of the routines they are seeing.”
In Poland, the judges’ backgrounds are nearly identical to that of NBC’s lineup: there’s a world champion ballroom dancer who’s also been on Dancing with the Stars (à la Hough); an actress who used to be a dancer (just like Lopez); and a member of a famous hip-hop crew (in the vein of Ne-Yo).
“The other thing that’s crucial is the voting system,” Langenberg says, referencing how the judges get 20 points each to assign in five categories: performance, technique, choreography, creativity and presentation. “In other shows, [the scoring] feels a little more random. In this one, it has different categories, which makes a lot of sense. That brings a lot of credibility as well. There’s less emotional judging. You already have all of this amazing talent and you want to be fair to all of them. It brings everybody—because you have duets, singles, big groups, small groups—onto the same playing field.”
In order to ensure that the various international iterations of World of Dance stick closely to these key format beats and “don’t dilute what makes this show different from other dancing shows,” there’s a high level of consultancy. “The EPs from the U.S. show are spending quite a lot of time to share all their knowledge,” Langenberg says. “They learned a lot from producing the first season. So we create boot camps for our international partners in the U.S. We took our Polish partners Rochstar and Polsat to L.A. in March to meet the team and [see] the set, which was invaluable.”
Alongside World of Dance, NBCU International Formats has in its portfolio Making It, a reality competition series that celebrates creativity and craftiness. The show makes its debut in the U.S. on NBC on July 31, and the format premiered to the international market at MIPTV. Next up is The Titan Games, a sports competition series. The U.S. series, which stars Dwayne Johnson, will begin shooting in September for a midseason premiere on NBC, and the format will launch to global buyers at MIPCOM.