Recently, The Shadow League was in the building at The Whitby Hotel in Manhattan to watch the first episode of the highly-anticipated dance competition World of Dance and listen to a Q&A featuring Ne-Yo and Jenna Dewan Tatum.
Competition can be a bummer sometimes because, after all, somebody has to lose. But that also means viewers will be able to witness the creme of the crop rise to the top. As it is in every other talent competition ever to be televised, everybody can't be the winner. World of Dance will premiere on NBC, May 30.
International pop star Jennifer Lopez, R&B singer, actor and dancer Ne-Yo and world-renowned choreographer Derek Hough will judge the competition of the best dancers from across the globe, and incorporating many different styles in their routines. Actress/dancer Jenna Dewan Tatum, wife of actor Channing Tatum, will host.
From where I sat, the show looked full of energy, emotion and sincerity. And the select audience was very engaged.
"People are excited," said Dewan Tatum. "I'm excited that people are excited."
As is the case on other televised talent competitions, Jenna's hosting duties include greeting the competitors after they exit.
"What was so great for me is that I ultimately turned into their biggest cheerleader, especially for the first two or three episodes," she said. "That's me. That was organic and natural. That was not something that was planned. I was back there, I was invested in the performance. I was cheering them on. Then I got to be the first person they saw when they got off the stage."
"As a dancer, you know how nervous you are with each performance. You get off stage and there's a surge of emotions. I got to be the first one there. It was like 'Aahhhh' and I got to do the same expression with every competitor. I know there were certain performances where they were let down. But it was all about that initial moment and that connection. You don't wanna go, 'You did great, you did awesome!' when the performance didn't go well. I say 'I know you're not happy with your performance but this isn't the end.' That was very important to me, because gosh, I can't tell you how many performances I've screwed up. You can't win them all but it's okay."
Though Dewan Tatum availed herself as both a cheerleader and grief counselor in some instances, Ne-Yo had already garnered something of a reputation for being a tough critic.
"For me, and we discussed this briefly, the grand prize is a million dollars," said Ne-Yo. "Where I come from, you don't give nobody a million dollars. A million dollars? I'm not going to just hand you a million dollars. No. These are the best dancers in the world. So, I didn't feel like I had to come in here with the kid gloves on."
"Nine times out of ten, before I even tell the dancers what I didn't like, they already know. As a dancer, as a performer an as an entertainer, you know when you've done your best. It's not like I was up there really Simon Cowell-ing them, like 'That was the most horrible thing that I have ever seen in my life. Thank you for wasting my time.' I didn't do that. I let it be known; 'Listen, if it's good it's good, if it's not I'm going to tell you that it's not good.' That's honest. Honest and fair."