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J. Lo's 'World of Dance' offers $1 million payoff

Jennifer Lopez remembers her early days as a struggling dancer and wants to offer hope to the next generation via NBC's World of Dance (Tuesday, 10 ET/PT).  

"I remember my days of dancing and having pizza, only a slice (to last) all day, and going to dance classes and trying to make an audition. It's a hard life," says Lopez, a judge and executive producer of a dance competition featuring performers and styles from around the globe. "This is about creating opportunities for people."

Singer-dancer-actress Lopez and her fellow judges, Dancing With the Stars six-time champ Derek Hough and singer-songwriter-dancer Ne-Yo, are offering a path away from financial struggle with a $1 million prize for the winner. 

The 10-episode NBC series, with host/mentor Jenna Dewan Tatum, builds off the global World of Dance, which started as a single event in 2008 and is now an international dance movement with video performances that boast 30 million online views per month. The competition will feature a broad range of styles, including hip-hop, ballet and stomping, and dancers from places such as Russia, Japan and Colombia. 

"We have flamenco dancers, salsa groups, contemporary, tap. The variety you're going to get from this is unlike any other show out there," Hough says.

The competition will be divided into three divisions: Junior (17 and under) and two 18-and-up divisions, Upper (one to four dancers) and Team (groups of five or more). Contestants will compete in their categories for four elimination rounds, with the winners of each division going against each other for the grand prize in the World Final.

Lopez, who also stars in the NBC drama Shades of Blue, says the big payout is especially significant in dance, which doesn't offer top performers the kind of money available in other artistic fields, such as singing and acting.

"You don't have lots of opportunities to make money, which is why people evolve out of it at a certain point. Also, it's like (with) an athlete. There's a stop date," she says. "So, to create an opportunity where they not only could make a name for themselves and have an outlet in television but could also make a million dollars, that's groundbreaking."   

With such shows as Dancing With the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance, dancers now can become stars, something that was much less likely early in Lopez's career. 

"Look at Derek. He tours with his sister Julianne (Hough). They sell out venues doing dancing shows, because they're on Dancing With the Stars," she says. 

Hough, an Emmy-winning choreographer who appeared in NBC's Hairspray Live!, is proud to have been part of a TV dance revolution over the past decade. "It's been such a blessing, and I’ve been so fortunate, seeing dance grow over the years and being part of that movement. This is just the next level."

Hough, who wouldn't rule out returning to Dancing With the Stars at some point, says he felt an immediate chemistry with fellow dancer Lopez.

"We had good banter. We're both very determined people. We share a passion for dance and we're still doing it," he says. "We want to share. We want to give back to the next generation of dancers and give them a real prize."



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