The era of dance reality shows

MUMBAI: Broadcasters today know how to sway their audiences and they’ve realised that nothing works better than dance reality shows on television. Every general entertainment channel (GEC) has at least one such affiliation either with an international format or a local production. A show ends on one channel and a new one begins on another.

The format of dance reality shows plays a vital role in keeping audiences engaged. Adding the clippings of the auditions process, rehearsal scenes and fun behind the cameras are strategies to attract viewers. Other elements, such as the voting system, involving commoners in the show and an anchor who banters, makes the show worthwhile.

A media professional said that dance reality shows are just the phase and they won’t stay. “The numbers might change in terms of ratings as its universe is growing. As the ratings universe is growing, the percentage in terms of viewers is also sizeable. You’ll have a certain number of audiences for these shows, because there are sponsors who may want to get that much and it makes sense to stay around.”

He also stated that over time there could be different genres that come up as popular ones for a period of time.

An African proverb says, 'When the music changes, so does the dance.' Though the proverb hints at how it is important to adapt to change in life, the proverb aptly suits the evolution of dance shows in recent times.

It was Sony Entertainment Television that showed Indians how to Boogie Woogie in 1996. The show tuned out within a year and took five years to resurface. After seven more seasons, the show synonymous with the face of comedian Javed Jaffrey, it was last seen in 2014. In the earlier seasons, the judges assigned various themes to episodes, including Bollywood, horror, and friendship among others. These different themes helped the show to retain their audiences and garner great traction.

Though a show like Big Boss is a rage with the people, broadcasters keep coming back to dance shows. The participants for even the least-popular dance show are never ending. People await that one lucky break wherever they can find it.

Nach Baliye was another show launched by Star One in 2006 as an original format which shifted to Star Plus after the second season. 2017 was its eighth season. It was a couple dance reality television show. Contestants danced to a different tune, theme and style every week and scores were given by the judges. Each week one couple was eliminated based on public voting and their scores.

Couch potatoes may want reality shows to last throughout the day. While some may watch and get inspired from the commoners showing off their moves, others tend to watch because of their favourite celebrity dancing or to gather some gossip from the show about the couples dating in the dance reality show.

Dance India Dance (DID) was another dance show in the Zee cluster that had six seasons. It also had spinoffs like DID Li'l Masters, DID Doubles and DID Supermoms. The show had a variety of Indian cultural and international contemporary dance like Bollywood, hip-hop, jazz, Kalaripayattu, salsa, samba and musical theatre styles to win the prize worth Rs 50 lakh.

According to the professional, these dance shows only work because of the existing audience that they have. Earlier the shows were just restricted to the older dancing formats, but now these shows have also added the flavour of hip-hop, electronic dance styles among others. The variety is what keeps audience engaged and gets advertising traction.

Colors introduced the Indian version of two BBC shows Strictly Come Dancing and Dancing with the Stars Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa – and it has seen nine seasons. In this show, celebrities perform various dances together with professional dance partners.

Reality shows are a high-cost proposition for GECs and few of them make money, if at all. As per reports, non-celebrity shows like DID cost around Rs 40 lakh per episode.

Another show was Sony’s Super Dancer, where 12 dancers are selected to be competing for the title of ‘dance ka kal’ (future of dance). They are each paired with one choreographer (super guru) who has a unique style similar to theirs. These gurus train them, choreograph acts for them and also perform with them. The performances are voted by the audience every week on the website or the SonyLiv app. On the basis of the number of votes, one kid is eliminated every week.

Zara Nachke Dikha, Just Dance and Dance Champions on Star Plus, Dancing Queens on Colors have made a mark in the Indian industry. New show formats are being launched every year. Colors intends to launch another show named Dance Deewane.  

Commenting on dance shows becoming trends now-a-days, another media expert said, “Dance shows have been trending for a very long. The first dance show was launched some 13-14 years ago. I think dance shows had a really very good run. I don’t think they will ever go out of fashion but they definitely need to keep reinventing themselves.”

Due to their short nature and thrill, reality shows grab more eyeballs than the saas bahu sagas. At first, shows were just about showing off your dancing skills but over time they have evolved into concepts, moulding yourself into different forms and even with various types of partners. The creativity level has skyrocketed but the best is yet to come.

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