Live to Dance premiered on January 4, 2011 with a diverse assortment of acts and with a judging format that gave the viewing audience considerable say in which acts moved forward through the competition. Produced by former American Idol judge Paula Abdul, who also acts as one of three judges (called “experts” on this show) in addition to her role as being a coach and “mentor” to the competitors, the show is derived from the successful British series, Got to Dance. In the 2-hour premiere episode of the American spin-off, 17 acts were chosen by the judges (Abdul and co-judges Travis Payne and Kimberly Wyatt) and one act was chosen by the voting audience to participate in the series’ semi-finals. The semi-finalists were then divided into three groups of six to appear in three semi-final episodes which aired January 12, 19, and 26. In each of those episodes, two acts were chosen – one by the judges and the other by the voting audience – to advance onto the finals. Beginning in February, then, the six remaining finalists performed in front of the audience for the last time before voting began for the show’s Grand Finale episode, which aired on February 9th, and in which the contestants were whittled down first to three finalists and then to two before the winner of the competition was announced.
Live to Dance has a no-age-limit, no-style-limit format which many viewers may have found difficult to judge the various acts by after years of watching episodes of Dancing With The Stars or even the more diverse So You Think You Can Dance. (The acts on Live can range from solos and couples to large ensembles of dancers, and can consist of anything from a Lindy Hop presentation to a Broadway-style show.)
The contestants on Live to Dance compete for a $500,000 prize, which certainly makes all their preparation, practice and performances worthwhile for them. Unfortunately, the new series didn't get the best of reviews from a number of media sources, who were critical of both the show's format and its talent, so its unclear how long of a run the show will enjoy. Still, while it lasts, Live to Dance offers yet another outlet for aspiring dancers to show off their talents on the national stage while providing yet another showcase for the dance profession itself. And for that we can only wish them the best and hope that the televised dance craze that started out with DWTS and SYTYCD can continue on with this latest incarnation.
Oh yeah, and the winner of this year’s Live to Dance competition? Congratulations to ballroom dancers D’Angelo & Amanda!