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Reality Check: So you think you can ‘dance’ to the TRP tune?

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Reality Check: So you think you can ‘dance’ to the TRP tune?

What makes for a ‘most-watched’ dance reality show? Is it the celebrity quotient? Or is it the invaluable tips given by the judges? Or do audiences simply enjoy in partaking in someone’s journey as they put their performance skills to the test? exchange4media finds out…

Dance reality shows as a format have been well received by the Indian audience time and again, and the appetite for more does not seem to be dwindling. Channels have tried many innovations over the years and many have worked beautifully, but the final verdict lies with the audience.

Keep ’em coming
In this game, ‘Boogie Woogie’ set the trend as early as 1995, making it the longest running dance reality show on television. Since then, many more have jumped on to the bus. ‘Dance Dance’ on Sony in 2004 and ‘Nach Baliye’ the Star One property in 2005. The latter was scooped up by the network on a larger scale in the second season to be aired on Star Plus, the former, however, died out after only one season.

Soon after, Sony launched ‘Jhalak Dikkhla Ja’, another show inspired from a Bollywood song name, but using a tried and tested international format, following an Indianised version of BBC’s ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ and ABC’s ‘Dancing with the Stars’. ‘Nachle Ve with Saroj Khan’ was Imagine’s entry (then NDTV Imagine) into dance reality programming, joined soon by Zee TV’s ‘Dance India Dance’. Not leaving the kids out, ‘Dance India Dance Li’l Masters’ was for young performers and now Colors is set to launch ‘Chak Dhoom Dhoom 2’ with Terence Javed and Mallika Sherawat as judges.

The Change of Seasons
While each show tries to do something unique, there are certain key ingredients that are needed to make a dance reality a ‘great’ programming format. Dance as a format on television has gone through several avatars. Channels have moved from non-celebrity dancing (‘Boogie Woogie’) to a phase of only celebrities dancing (starting with ‘Nach Baliye’, moving on to ‘Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa’, ‘Zara Nach Ke Dikha’, etc.), and now, back to non-celebrity dancing with ‘Dance India Dance’. There have been variations – couples, solo performers, kids, families – along with celebrities and non-celebrities.

Taking a look at what has worked for each of the shows, the leadership of Javed Jaffery, a highly talented performer roped in as a judge for ‘Boogie Woogie’ was what kept the audiences engaged.

‘Nach Baliye’ brought a fresh take on things by stepping the dance-reality format up by a notch by adding a celebrity angle with judges like Saroj Khan and Malaika Arora Khan and giving viewers a treat by pairing up real-life couples, a programming innovation that was an instant success. ‘Nach Baliye’ has completed four seasons, and while talks of the fifth season are underway, nothing is currently confirmed. As per data from TAM Media Research (HSM CS 4+ markets), the show drew ratings that ranged from 3 to 5 TVRs in the last season with Aamir and Sanjeeda emerging as winners and Farah Khan, Karisma Kapoor and Arjun Rampal as the judges.

‘Jhalak Dikhhla Ja’ followed the international format of ‘Dancing with the Stars’ and this served as a platform where for the first time not only the celebrity participants, but even choreographers such as Toby (partnered with Mona Singh) and Javed Sanadi (partnered with Sandhya Mridul), came into the forefront and attained star-like status. The show has completed three seasons and is now into its fourth successful run, having drawn a 5.4 TVR in its opening week and a 3.4 TVR in its second week (data from TAM Media Research in HSM CS 4+ markets).

From an audience perspective, it is interesting to note that the entertainment options are never too few. Many judges, including Saroj Khan, Farah Khan and Malaika Arora, and choreographers such as Terence Lewis, Remo D’Souza and Geeta Kapoor have shuffled from stage to stage.

‘Dance India Dance’ took the route of bringing in non-celebrities as contestants and soon developed a loyal audience season after season that was floored by performances by Salman, Dharmesh, Jay Kumar Nair and Shatki Mohan. Another selling point for the show is its information value to its dance-loving audiences as the show has introduced dance forms like Locking-Popping, B-Boying, Cha Cha Cha, Rumba, Jive, Contemporary, Afro Jazz, etc.

‘Dance India Dance’ launched its fourth season on December 31, 2010 as ‘DID Doubles’, this time in a paired dancers format and is currently in its first leg, showcasing the Mumbai auditions.

Industry Speak
According to Ashish Golwalkar, Programming Head and Non-fiction, Zee TV, “There is only one key ingredient to any successful dance-reality show – the talent. Great judges, grand sets or lighting is of little use otherwise. The mechanism to hunt for talent has to be in place. When we select judges, we keep in mind their ability to communicate to an audience as they play dual roles and are also responsible for advising on the choreography background, interacting with the contestants and much more. ‘Jhalak Dikhhla Ja’ has followed a successful format world over, which has nothing in common with our show. ‘DID’ takes audiences through a format of human story telling of the common man and their journey as they battle the different challenges and styles of dance to be performed on the show. We love co-existing with other dance-reality shows as we are confident of our content.”

When asked what made this season of ‘Jhalak…’ stand out, Ajay Bhalwankar, Programming Head, Sony Entertainment Television, explained, “Ours is an international format with celebrity judges who are dance divas, which makes for the best panel of judges. For audiences, the quality of performances and the hand picked contestants such as Daya and Ragini, watching them trying to learn different forms of dance and the process is the entertainment value we offer. Added to that, a big draw is also our quality of production as dance is a visual form of entertainment, where things such as elaborate sets, the perfect lighting and grandeur are at play. We have largely remained true to the format and this season our grand opening episode has brought in viewers and upped the scale. We have also maintained a good line-up with Madhuri Dixit, Malaika Arora Khan and Remo this time as our judges.”

“In order to break the clutter, Imagine was the first to experiment with dance as a daily format with ‘Nachle Ve’ (NLV) with Saroj Khan. Whilst all other shows were competition led, ‘NLV’ in contrast was totally non-competitive. The show identified and fulfilled a need gap, proceeding to teach Bollywood dance to the viewer in the comfort of their own home by the famous choreographer Saroj Khan, who has trained many filmstars in her career. The talent and training of dancers participating in the programme is what makes the show. Nothing is a substitute for good talent, and on television it is superlative talent that drives each episode. With gifted dancers as contestants, choreographers can experiment, create, innovate and push the limits of their own choreography, thereby being able to raise the bar higher each time. It is sheer talent and the variance of that talent that makes contestants household names,” felt Sanvari Nair, Creative Director, Programming Non-Fiction, Imagine TV.


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