By Evan DeSimone
On Nov. 19, multi-channel network DanceOn brought the reality competition format to mobile with “Every Single Step,” available exclusively on Verizon’s Go90 platform. The new series follows emerging choreographers as they work to perfect their skills and compete in a series of weekly challenges to win a cash prize and, perhaps more importantly, professional recognition. If that format sounds familiar it’s because the show is the brainchild of “So You Think You Can Dance” creator, producer and judge Nigel Lythgoe, the man behind genre defining shows such as “American Idol” and “So You Think You Can Dance.”
“Competition formats are particularly well-suited for digital platforms, because engagement-related activities like 1) contestants activating their fan bases and 2) fans voting and encouraging others to vote are done online rather than TV or some other medium.” DanceOn CEO Amanda Taylor told VideoInk, “Given DanceOn’s focus on music and dance performance, competition formats have always been a corner stone of our programming strategy, and with 4 seasons of Dance Showdown under our belt and now the launch of Every Single Step with Nigel Lythgoe, we are positioned to be leaders in the competition category.”
We we also caught up with Nigel Lythgoe to talk about the show, his vision, and making the leap from television to digital.
After so many years working with dancers, what drove the decision to shift your focus to the choreographer in “Every Single Step?”
I created “So You Think You Can Dance” over 10 years ago, during which time I’ve seen how dancers have improved exponentially. I believe the street dancers have inspired and excited the formally trained dancers with their fearless attitude to music and movement. The trained dancers have equally inspired the street kids by showing them how important technique is. This has led to a thriving, creative cauldron of dancers waiting to be led, and challenged by new, talented young choreographers. Choreographers with a fresh approach, and new ideas for an expanding commercial world. “Every Single Step” was created to help, guide and find these talented artists.
You’ve primarily worked in traditional television, How did you find yourself working with DanceOn?
I have always been extremely interested in becoming involved in the digital space. Creating for a global community is very exciting, especially with a company whose entire focus is on dance, shaping culture and setting trends. Finding a company like DanceOn with nearly 30 million subscribers and over 5 billion network views was obviously very attractive to me.
How did you decide to bring the show to a new platform like Go90?
To be quite honest, I had nothing to do with choosing Go90. Amanda Taylor, the CEO of DanceOn, was the brains behind this historic partnership.
Did you explore other digital distribution channels and might we see “Every Single Step” coming to other platforms in the future?’
I would like to think that “Every Single Step” has a life on a traditional broadcast television channel at some point. Unfortunately, dance still scares a lot of television executives. Maybe if they see the creativity, the passion and the fun that this program generates they will open their minds along with their checkbooks.
Did you face any unique challenges in producing a show for a mobile first platform?
Obviously, as I am accustomed to making million dollar programs like “American Idol” and “So You Think You Can Dance” the only real challenge was a financial one. Just because the budget is less, my standards aren’t. Thank goodness we had a wonderful production team led by Kristin Campbell-Taylor. They did a remarkable job.
Conversely, did producing for mobile present any fresh opportunities to innovate?
I think the speed that everything was done at, now reflects itself in an exciting finished project.
“So You Think You Can Dance” has been credited with raising mainstream interest in dance, do you expect “Every Single Step” do to the same for the role of the choreographer?
At this time, television viewers are looking to observe and sometimes immerse themselves in other people’s lives. The casting process for all these so called reality shows is of most importance. Whether you like or dislike the characters is of little importance as long as they generate some emotion in the viewer. Bland is boring.
I’m looking for choreographic contestants that have a clear vision in their heads and an individual voice in their work. A unique style, with signature moves. In truth, it doesn’t have to be there right now, I just have to believe that they have the ability to grow and attain these qualities. Choreography is all about creativity.
The basic principles for choreography are obvious: understanding music, the ability to put movement to that music and the ability to convey ideas and stories through dance and movement to other people. The rest is about God given talent. Good choreographers must be bold, brave, loud and proud.
Fear stifles creativity. These artists cannot be held back by their fears, they must be led forward by their dreams. That is who these people are. By choosing our contestants wisely, I am positive the viewers will be talking about these young, artistic individuals and how they can move dance forward into the next decade.