New dance craze

T'visa's 'Dream' wins at home and o'seas

MEXICO CITY — Everyone is dressed to the nines. The orchestra strikes up. It’s time to dance.

No, this isn’t ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars,” it’s Mexico’s “Bailando por un sueno” (Dancing for a Dream), which pairs celebs and sports stars with ordinary people.

The twist? The contestants win something they badly need, such as the young woman (paired with a wrestler) who wants to win her brother a prosthetic leg, or another young woman (paired with a TV comedian) who needs money to support her mother and siblings because their abusive father has left.

“Bailando” is Mexican giant Televisa’s winter hit and one of the net’s hottest international formats.

The rebroadcast of the finale Stateside on Univision Feb. 23 clinched the No.1 U.S. Hispanic net its highest Sunday night ratings ever among adults.

It made Univision the third most-watched network overall among adults 18-34 and kids 2-11, bested only by ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” and the final telecast of NBC’s Winter Olympics.

Columbia broadcaster RCN’s version debuted to 62% shares in late January. This month, local versions will bow in Argentina and Romania, in May in El Salvador and other deals are closing, says show producer Ruben Galindo.

“Bailando” pairs the glittering dance competition with the tear-jerking backstories of contestants, who are often very poor.

“This show incorporates two very powerful universes,” says Galindo, who produces the show with his cousin Santiago Galindo. “The first is the reality of the life stories of these people that are desperately seeking to resolve some kind of problem of basic need, and the second is spectacular entertainment in competition — which makes it even more attractive.”

“Bailando” is the first output of the unit exploring new formats created in Televisa last year under Eduardo Clemesha. It shows the web has learned from its mistakes.

Televisa’s “American Idol”-esque “Operacion Triunfo” tanked three years ago in the face of TV Azteca’s “La Academia,” one of the few times when TV Azteca trounced its dominant rival.

Galindo says “Triunfo” was edged out because it didn’t present a true panorama of Mexican society, offering only light-skinned, fair-eyed contestants — the upper crust of Mexico’s all-too-colonial society. “La Academia,” like “Bailando,” included a more representative group.

In Mexico, “Bailando” has been replaced by “Cantando por un sueno” (Singing for a Dream), a singing contest that follows a similar format, where contestants are coached by a star.

And it is trouncing TV Azteca’s “Desafio de las estrellas,” reuniting contestants from the last four seasons of “La Academia,” in the ratings.