For Jennifer Lopez, spending seven years as a judge on talent competition shows hasn’t just been about mentoring young performers, but also about improving herself.
The star, who spent five years on the “American Idol” judging panel, is now on the second season of her show “World of Dance,” for which she is a judge and executive producer.
“I love mentoring, I love being part of someone’s journey in that way, and I also learn so much from watching and analyzing performances all the time,” Lopez told Variety during the show’s press day earlier this year. “I feel like it’s made me a better singer, dancer, performer, entertainer myself. I feel like I’ve grown leaps and bounds since ‘American Idol’ just because of that — because when you start picking things apart you’re like ‘Oh, I do that.’”
“World of Dance,” which started production at the end of January and is set to air over the summer, features dancers from all over the world competing for the $1 million prize in front of judges Lopez, Ne-Yo, Derek Hough and host Jenna Dewan. This season, the show will expand the number of young competitors — with 50 percent of contestants being under the age of 18 — as well as increase the total number of dancers.
“Last year was such a success for us, and we were so excited about that. It really kind of exceeded all of our expectations,” Lopez said. “I knew we had the ingredients for a beautiful show, but you never know what’s going to happen, so it was just exciting to be able to come back again. And we’re going to give them more of what they loved the first time.”
The show was a passion project for the singer and actress, who calls dance her “first love,” and wanted to give hardworking dancers their time in the spotlight.
“They’ve been in the background for so long, and people don’t realize how much dedication, commitment, passion and love it takes to be a dancer,” she said. “It’s just like any artist in the world, you have to love it, and I just love providing a platform where they get to be not a step away or a step behind but up front and the star.”
Ne-Yo echoed a similar sentiment, saying, “The height of a lot of dancers is dancing behind somebody else, and for the amount of sacrifice and blood, sweat and tears that you have to put into it in order to become great, it was almost sad that there was no platform for these people to be the star.”
As for why the show was such a success in it’s first year, crowning French duo Les Twins as its winners and leading as the top new summer series, Hough says the key is “just the love, the love of dance,” while Dewan thinks it’s due to the uplifting message.
“I think when you’re done with your day and [are] with your family, you want something you can watch all together and you want your popcorn — you want to be entertained and you want to feel good — and I think that’s a bit of what we’ve tapped into,” she said.
“World of Dance” premieres May 29 on NBC. It has also already been renewed for a third season.