“The dance world is small,” says the dancer known as Fik-shun, “so when you’ve done enough stuff you’ve kind of met everyone.”
That might explain why there are so many Las Vegas connections in “World of Dance,” the competition debuting on NBC on Tuesday.
Three of the contestants are based in town: Fik-shun, the 2013 winner of Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance”; the break-dance team Super Cr3w; and the masked dance collective Jabbawockeez, which performs at the MGM Grand.
But look on the judges’ side of the table, too: Planet Hollywood headliner Jennifer Lopez is executive producer and lead judge of the NBC summer series, which stems from the World of Dance touring enterprise.
And sitting next to her at the judges table will be R&B singer Ne-Yo, who grew up in Las Vegas and (as Shaffer Smith) attended Rancho High School and Las Vegas Academy (as did Fik-shun, when he was known as DuShaunt Stegall).
The show debuting after “America’s Got Talent” (at 10 p.m. Tuesday on KSNV-TV, Channel 3) is no amateur hour. Producers bill it as “the best of the best,” competing for the title of “Best in the World,” which helps explain why Fik-shun and Jabbawockeez are contestants and not guest stars or judges.
“That was one of the things that really motivated us to do the show, was that all the best crews were doing it,” Super Cr3w’s Mike Carrasco says. “World of Dance” puts Super Cr3w back in competition with Kinjaz, with whom they faced off as finalists on MTV’s “America’s Best Dance Crew” two years ago (both lost to Quest Crew).
The TV contest also mixes 47 acts of all ages and genres. Soloists compete against troupes, and b-boys go up against tap, flamenco, ballet and ballroom dancers.
But Fik-shun and SuperCr3w say they work that diversity to their advantage.
“We are b-boys, but we love to go outside the box and push the envelope on how people perceive what break-dancing and b-boys are,” Super Cr3w’s Jon Cruz says. “We challenged ourselves to push the envelope again.”
“I guess our outlook on how we put together shows now is a lot more theatrical,” Super Cr3w’s Ben Honrubia adds. “We’re really taking b-boying to a new height. We’re older now. We’re not just some kids spinning on our backs on the sidewalk anymore. It’s grown into an art form, and we’re able to mix different genres of music and styles of clothing.”
Likewise, Fik-shun says his freestyle dancing has evolved beyond what people saw on “So You Think You Can Dance” (where he will serve as an All-Star mentor when the Fox competition returns June 12).
“My choices of movement are different,” the 22-year-old says. “I just wanted to show a different variety and a way that I do dance that most people don’t see. Most people would expect me to dance to the upbeat hip-hop songs, but a lot of my song choices were slower, so it gave a different feel to what I was doing.”
The show was taped in February, and “to try to stay quiet about something so exciting is probably the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do,” Honrubia says.
But, he notes, any show devoted entirely to dance is good for all concerned.
“That’s the cool thing about dance. We’re really growing the community together. We’re trying to get people to understand how hard we work and how much we love our craft and art form. Of course there’s rivalries and things like that, but it gets laid out on the floor.”
Contact Mike Weatherford at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0288. Follow @Mikeweatherford on Twitter.