John Irwin and his production company, Irwin Entertainment, have launched the brand-new format Dancing with Myself, capitalizing on the viral short dance challenges that have boomed in popularity on social media platforms such as TikTok the past few years. Hosted by Camille Kostek, the show sees Shakira, Nick Jonas and Liza Koshy choreograph and perform dance challenges that contestants in isolated pods must quickly re-create with their own flair and then perform in front of a live studio audience. While the judges offer feedback, the audience holds the power of deciding who earns the cash prize at the end of the night.
Irwin talks to TV Formats about the format’s creation and how it stands out in a crowded dance-competition space. Dancing with Myself is currently broadcasting on NBC in the U.S. on Tuesday nights at 10 p.m.
TV FORMATS: How did Dancing with Myself come together?
IRWIN: We always strive to develop content that feels like it’s part of the cultural zeitgeist. During the pandemic—while people were isolated in their homes—we watched dance explode on social media platforms like TikTok. So, we were inspired to create a format that encourages anyone who loves to dance to apply to be a contestant on a show. As we were developing the format, Shakira’s music video for “Girl Like Me” was trending with millions of people who not only were copying her moves but also were trying to replicate her wardrobe and background. Fortunately, we were lucky enough to capture her attention with the format and bring her on as a partner to sell the show.
TV FORMATS: There are many game shows and quite a few dance competition formats on the market. How does Dancing with Myself stand out from the crowd?
IRWIN: We have created a party environment with our celebrity panelists Shakira, Nick Jonas and Liza Koshy, who have choreographed short dances that our contestants must learn and perform. The studio audience decides who advances to the next round while our panelists critique and vote to save some of their favorite dancers. Similar to what we’re seeing happening on social media, you don’t have to be the best dancer to get the most likes from our studio audience. On our show, it’s emphasized that anyone can qualify to come on the show. We only ask for one thing: You must have a love for dance.
TV FORMATS: What is the target audience? Is it solely for the TikTok generation, or would all ages enjoy it?
IRWIN: This show is a fun watch for the whole family. We know from TikTok that people of all ages, shapes and sizes love to dance. I think the TikTok crowd will want to engage with the show to learn the hottest dances from our creators, and the rest of the viewing audience will enjoy watching the contestants try to mirror the celebrity panelists’ expert dance moves. The viewing audience also can relate to the excitement of the experience, knowing that they, too, could absolutely be a contestant on a future season!
TV FORMATS: The format’s first iteration launched in the U.S. on NBC. How well does that bode for the format’s future? What is the benefit of launching in the U.S.?
IRWIN: NBC has been an amazing partner! The show’s lead-in is America’s Got Talent, and the network has done an extensive marketing push to get the word out. We were also fortunate to partner with Universal Television Alternative Studio (UTAS); its distribution arm already has introduced the format abroad. It’s almost certain that a successful U.S. launch can help drive international interest and sales.
TV FORMATS: The studio audience will decide each night’s best dancer, but will viewers at home also get to vote?
IRWIN: The studio audience controls the destiny of our contestants while our celebrity panelists can save those they particularly favor. Although the home audience does not get to vote, there is a high degree of play-along and interactivity because the show encourages viewers to learn some of the dances and submit them for the chance to be featured in the following week’s episode.
TV FORMATS: What must be at the heart of each Dancing with Myself adaptation, no matter what country it is made in?
IRWIN: Every adaptation of the show must celebrate how the contestants’ personalities shine through dance. Casting should always be a critical element, as well as creating the ideal environment that feels like a fun club. It’s also important for the celebrity panelists to have a great rapport with and love of dance.