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Superstars of Dance

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5/10 TV

Created by  Nigel Lythgoe
Country of origin  United States
First episode date  4 January 2008
Network  NBC
4.2/10 IMDb

Genre  Reality
Narrated by  Joe Cipriano
Original language(s)  English
Final episode date  26 January 2009
Superstars of Dance Superstars of Dance Barynya Cossack dancers NBC
Judges  Maria Pogee Shirish Dayal Kelley Abbey Harold Van Buuren Tony Selznick Daire Nolan Mikhail Smirnov Master Haiyang Wang
Cast  Michael Flatley, Susie Castillo
Presented by  Michael Flatley, Susie Castillo
Similar  Live to Dance, Dance Your Ass Off, Got to Dance, Dance Machine, Dancing with the Stars

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Superstars of Dance was an American reality television show, first broadcast on January 4, 2009, on NBC. The show featured dance routines from eight different countries from six continents. It was hosted by Michael Flatley, co-creator of Riverdance and creator of Lord of the Dance, and was co-hosted by former Miss USA title holder Susie Castillo. It was created by executive producers Nigel Lythgoe and Simon Fuller, co-producers of So You Think You Can Dance and American Idol.


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On May 19, 2009, it was announced that NBC would not be ordering a second season of the show.

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Superstars of Dance Superstars of Dance Barynya Cossack dancers NBC

On November 17, 2008 NBC announced it had ordered a new reality program titled Superstar Dancers of the World, which would feature competitors from eight international teams and would be produced by Simon Fuller and Nigel Lythgoe of American Idol fame. NBC billed the show as "equal parts sporting event, rock concert, and artistic exhibition" and Lythgoe called it "the most challenging and exhilarating project I've ever done." By mid-December, the show was renamed Superstars of Dance and the debut was set for January 4, 2009. Michael Flatley was chosen to host, and Susie Castillo was given a co-hosting position.

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Superstars of Dance differs from similar TV dance competitions in a number of ways. It features professionals instead of amateurs, including several world champions. Additionally, the contestants were chosen by their respective countries, rather than by the show's producers. Flatley has said Superstars is a lot like a sporting competition, even comparing it the Olympic Games.

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The winners are not decided by audience votes, but rather by a panel of eight judges. The producers felt that it would be unfair to decide the winner by phone-in votes, assuming the American public would probably just vote for the American team. Furthermore, unlike most reality-based competition shows, Superstars does not have a live component.

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The show was heavily promoted by NBC and widely anticipated, making several "best bets" programming guides. The promotion paid off, as the show debuted with a 6.3 rating share representing an estimated 10.5 million viewers in a difficult time slot against ABC's mega-hit Desperate Housewives.

The teams

Superstars of Dance features a group, a duet, and two soloists from each of eight countries - Argentina, Australia, China, India, Ireland, Russia, South Africa and United States. Most of the contestants perform professionally as dancers full-time and several are world champions, or have otherwise achieved the highest honor available in their respective genres. Many of the contestants took time off their world tours in order to participate.

Several participants have connections to a previous Lythgoe and Fuller dance show, So You Think You Can Dance. Anya Garnis, Pasha Kovalev, Giselle Peacock, and Robert Muraine were all contestants on that show, while Jason Gilkison and Nakul Dev Mahajan choreographed for it. Henry Byalikov was a contestant on the Australian version of So You Think You Can Dance.

Damien O'Kane was replaced by Bernadette Flynn for the semi-final round of the competition.
Pasha Kovalev and Anya Garnis was replaced by Pasha & Aliona Riazantsev for the semi-final round of the competition
Competitors in bold won their respective categories.

The judges

The panel of eight judges rank each contestant on a 1-10 scale. Each participating country has one judge on the panel, but judges are forbidden from voting for their own country's contestants. The panel is made up of highly respected choreographers and retired dancers.

Episode 1

The first episode of Superstars of Dance, was aired on Sunday, January 4, 2009. After, host Michael Flatley introduced the show's format, co-host, and judges competition got underway with a Lord of the Danceesque number from the Irish group entry. The crowd reacted enthusiastically and the judges awarded 65 points out of a possible 70.

Next to perform was popper Robert Muraine from the United States. His routine brought a standing ovation but the judges weren't sure what to think and gave 57 points. Carolina Cerisola followed with a Tango-influenced Jazz routine using a top hat and chair, earning 58 points for Argentina. Russian couple Pasha Kovalev and Anya Garnis took the stage next and did a Latin-inspired ballroom number. The crowd loved it and the judges award 64 points. Next Indian duo Nishi Munshi and Sangita Sanyal performed a Bollywood style dance about two sisters who are in love with the same guy. The judges give them just 51 points. South African judge Harold Van Buuren remarked that they weren't up to competition level standards.

Tap dancer Sean Robinson, representing Australia, and ribbon dancer Bei Zheng, representing China, followed. Robinson earned 57 points, while Zheng got just 51, causing protests from the crowd. South African group Umojo then took the stage to perform a gumboot dance inspired by the country's history. Wearing miners' costumes, the group accentuated their performance with trash can drums and chanting/singing. They received 57 points for their efforts. A group from the Australian Dance Theatre dance company follows, performing a contemporary routine which mixes several different styles. They also received 57 points. Next, Damien O'Kane performs a solo hardshoe routine with a contemporary spin. The judges give mixed reviews and he ends up with 58 points, tying him for first thus far. Next, it is Sduduzo Ka-mbili's turn. Representing South Africa, he does a Zulu warrior dance called the "Power of Juxta." The routine features athletic kicks and jumps, and is awarded 55 points.

American duo Georgia Amabarian and Eric Luna then performed a Cabaret number. The routine featured several difficult lifts, but not as much foot work. The judges' opinions are mixed, ranging from several 7s to a 10 from Ireland, for 57 total points. Next is a traditional tango, performed by Miriam Larici and Leonardo Barrionuevo of Argentina. Their routine was loved by the audience and the judges award two 10s and 65 points overall. Russian soloist Julia Bantner followed with a contemporary dance number that earned just 50 points. Amrapali Ambegaokar, representing India, did a traditional North Indian dance wearing traditional clothing, including bells on her feet. The number ended with a long spin sequence causing an enthusiastic crowd response. The judges award her 62 points — the highest solo score of the night.

Last, the Shaolin Monks performed their group effort. They combined Kung Fu, acrobatics, weaponry, and music to create a unique dance experience. The routine featured jumps, kicks, rolls, and mock fighting. The number ended with one group member being suspended in mid-air on four sharp spears. The crowd went wild and the judges were impressed as well. Judge Harold Van Buuren called it "the performance of the evening" and the monks receive 66 points, the highest score given to any act.

Episode 2

The second episode of Superstars of Dance aired on January 5, 2009. The show marked the end of the quarterfinals and with it the first eliminations. At the end of the evening, eight soloists, two duos, and two groups were eliminated.

The evening started with a high-energy group number from the Argentinian trio "Los Huincas Gauchos." Their routine mixed weaponry, drum playing, and hand clapping, but was relatively low on dance steps. The Argentinian judge, Maria Pogee, remarked that the group "didn't do everything they were supposed to." The trio received 48 points, the lowest score of the competition to that point. India's second soloist, Mythili Prakash, went next, performing a traditional South Indian routine. Her performance earned 58 points. Indian coach Nakul Dev Mahajan is baffled by the score, saying Prakash "sets the standard" for her style of dance". South African judge Harold Van Buuren replies that "there is always room for improvement." Next, Irish step-dancer Kelly Hendry performed a traditional dance with a bit of a contemporary twist. The judges gave her 56 points.

The Australia duo Henry Byalikov and Giselle Peacock went next, and scored 56 points for a Latin-inspired ballroom number. Following them was another ballroom duo — Victor Da Silva and Claudia Savvides of South Africa — who choose to do a "show piece" rather than a typical ballroom routine. Their lift heavy Rumba-esque dance scored 59 points. Following the ballroom acts, Yang Yanan took the stage to perform with single and double whips. The crowd is enthused by his use of the weaponry, but the judges feel the act lacks in actual dancing. In the end, Yang received only 51 points, causing the audience to boo loudly.

Next up was American tap dancer, Dormesia Sumbry-Edwards. She did a classic routine to typewriter sounds that was originally from a Jerry Lewis movie. The crowd liked it, but was again disappointed as the judging panel awarded just 55 points. Following her, a group of Russians performed a traditional Cossack dance. According to the judges, their act was acrobatic and full of energy, but lacked in technical precision. They earned 51 points for their efforts.

The show continued with the India group entry. Their coach describes the act as a big celebration that makes the audience want to get up and join in but the judges are unimpressed. The group does, however, score enough to advance to the next round: 54 points. Next Mamela Nyamza, representing South Africa, performed a tribal piece about a woman frustrated with her marriage and life. Her interpretive routine featured a lot of screaming and writhing around on the floor, stunning the studio audience — little applause is heard. The judges, however, loved the number and award Nyamza with 58 points.

Miriam Larici then returned for a solo performance (she had a duet the previous night) in which she attempted to create a one-person tango. She brought in 57 points for Argentina, 8 less than she and partner Leonardo Barrionuevo received the night prior. Ireland's duo was up next, with married couple Damien O'Kane and Bernadette Flynn attempting to bring a romantic twist to traditional Irish step-dancing. For the most part, the judges liked what they saw and gave the couple 58 points.

The final duo to perform was Zhen Zhu Zheng and An Nan of China. The two are part of an acrobatic troupe and incorporate that training into their routine. Among other moves, An does a full turn en pointe atop Zhen's shoulders. The crowd cheered loudly, but the judges gave mixed reviews. A few judges gave high marks for the incredible difficulty of the routine, but most said it was not actually a dance routine. The duo ends up with 53 points.

Russian ballerina Maria Kochetkova came next with what the judges call a beautiful and technically precise number. The performance ended with a long spin sequence and received 9's across the board, for a total of 63 points, making it the highest scoring solo of the competition to date. Reed Luplau followed with the final solo of the quarterfinals. His routine featured several high leaps across the stage and garnered a strong audience reaction. The judges awarded 65 points, highest among all soloists. At this point the eight highest soloists are to be advanced into the semi-finals. Lauplau and Kochetkova advances, as well as dancers from Argentina, South Africa, Ireland, and both soloists from India. However, there was a three way tie for the eighth spot. A tie breaking vote was called for and Robert Muraine received 4 of the 5 tie-break votes to advance.

The final act of the quarterfinals is the United States' group entry, The Groovaloos. The group consists of one girl and nine guys, including one member, Steven, who was recently hit by a stray bullet and told he would never walk again. Their street dance number began with Steven being rolled out on a stretcher. The other nine start running, leaping, and dancing about the stage and pretty soon Steven gets up and joins in the action. The studio audience cheered loudly and the judges award 67 points, including four 10s. It is the highest score given to any act in the competition to date.

Standings after the quarter-finals

1Miriam Larici, Robert Muraine, and Sean Robinson were tied for 8th with 57 points going into the first elimination. Since only 8 could advance, a tie-breaking vote was called for from the five countries not involved. Muraine won four votes from South Africa, Ireland, Russia, and China, which put him through to the semifinal round. Robinson received one vote from India, while Larici received no votes.

Episode 3

The third episode of Superstars of Dance aired on January 12, 2009. Three groups, three duos, and four soloists took the stage to compete in the first half of the semi-finals. Scores from the first round don't carry over, except for the master score board, so everyone started with a clean slate.

Leading off the show is the group entry from Australia. They bring a high-energy athletic number filled with countless spins, jumps, and rolls. The crowd enjoys it, as do the judges, awarding 62 points including a 10 from Russia. It's a marked improvement over the group's first round score of 57. Next up is the Irish duo Damien O'Kane & Bernadette Flynn. They choose a sassier number which involves more movement from O'Kane than the duo's earlier performance. The judges' opinions are split with some enjoying it and others saying it "lacked fire," and the duo has to settle for 58 points.

The first soloist of the evening, Maria Kochetkova, is the next to take the stage. The Russian ballerina turns in a classic ballet number with clean, crisp lines, and countless pirouettes. Asked how she can do so much spinning without getting dizzy, she simply replies "practice makes perfect." The judges again love her performance and award 63 points — identical to her first round number. Next up is American popper Robert Muraine, the last soloist to make it into the semi-finals. His intro claims he never choreographs his numbers because he feels popping is a freestyle art. Muraine's semi-final performance involves noticeably more variation and movement then his previous set. The studio audience again enjoys his performance and this time the judges agree, awarding him with 61 points.

The South African group entry, Umojo, is the next act to return. They hit the floor with a powerful dance based on Zulu tribal war dances. Several members play drums, while others chant and sing. After the number concludes, a member is asked to explain the significance of the dance. He then demonstrates some traditional hunting and pre-war dance moves that they've incorporated into their performance. The judging panel awards 58 points. Next up are Miriam Larici and Leonardo Barrionuevo of Argentina. They turn in a scorching hot tango, that brings praise and high scores from six of the seven judges. South African judge Harold Van Buuren is the lone dissenter, saying that Barrionuevo is not at the same level as Larici. The couple is questioned about the remark, and Barrionuevo essentially agrees with the critique saying he appreciates the advice. The couple ends up with 63 points.

Amrapali Ambegaokar is the first of India's two soloists to return to the stage. Her spins, bells, and smile again light up the stage as she performs another traditional North Indian piece. The judges give her 59 points for her efforts. Following her is the final soloist of the evening — Reed Luplau of Australia. He opts for a more powerful, rock-and-roll flavored number this time around. When he is done flipping and spinning about the stage, Ambegaokar is called back out - with four soloists performing this evening and only three spots available in the finals, one of them will have to go home. Amegaokar has the lowest score thus far, so it'll be either her or Luplau who departs. The judges are unimpressed by Luplau's performance and he ends up 1 point short of Amegaokar, with 58 points. Everyone is shocked to see the first round standout going home so soon and Luplau is not quite sure what to say in his final interview.

As the shock starts to wear off, it's time for the final duet of the evening. The honor belongs to Victor Da Silva and Claudia Savvides of South Africa. The couple decides to put it all on the line, bringing a brand new trick-laden piece to the floor. Savvides barely touches the floor, as Da Silva is constantly lifting her high in the air, often with only one arm. The number ends with Da Salva spinning his partner around several times above his head, much like a helicopter, then throwing her above his head; she lands completely wrapped around his body and slides down his body to the floor, holding the same position the whole way down. The judges appreciate the difficultly demonstrated but feel the tricks took away from the natural flow of the dance. The couple has to settle for 59 points and second place among duos thus far.

The night concludes with the return of the Groovaloos. Their introduction shows the American group getting a ballet lesson from the Russian coach. "About the only similarity [between the styles]," a group member quips, "is that both take years to get good at." The theme of tonight's performance is going to work. First they ride the subway, then the elevator; they clock in and begin work. The routine features several innovative movements including the girl of the group standing in for a robot that is being fine-tuned by the workers. Soon it's "break time" and the action really starts to pick up. Group members fly about the stage, rolling and jumping over each other at a break-neck pace. The group goes through several different dance steps before the performance concludes with one member doing six consecutive back-flips in place. The Groovaloos receive a standing ovation and 66 points from the judging panel.

During the Groovaloos post-performance interview, co-host Susie Susie Castillo brings up the idea of a skills battle between the Groovaloos and the Shaolin Monks. The American team is very enthusiastic about the idea and a showdown with the Shaolin Monks is set for next week's show.

Episode 4

The fourth episode of Superstars of Dance aired on January 19, 2009. The other three groups, the other three duets, and the other four soloists:

Standings after the semi-finals

1The Australian Dance Theatre and The Irish team were tied in 3rd place with 62 points going into the first elimination. Since only 3 could advance, a tiebreaking vote was called for from the six countries not involved. The Australian Dance Theater won five votes from Argentina, India, South Africa, USA, and Russia. The Irish won one vote from China.

Standings after the finale

Every performance is counted toward a country's overall standing, thus countries with multiple contestants advancing through the competition have a substantial advantage over countries with just one or two. The country with the most points at the end of the competition will be declared the winner and awarded the Superstars of Dance trophy.

*The semi-finals were split over episodes 3 and 4, with an unbalanced number of contestants from each country participating in each episode.

  • Bold font indicates the highest scoring team on a performance show.
  • Italic font indicates the lowest scoring team on a performance show.
  • References

    Superstars of Dance Wikipedia