Picture a swan on a lake. It looks graceful and regal on the top, but underneath its legs are paddling furiously. That’s the analogy Conrad Green, executive producer of BBC Worldwide Productions’ Dancing with the Stars, makes about his Emmy-worthy reality-competition. “We always try to create the effect of effortlessness, but I think some people assume that if it looks effortless, then not much effort was put into it. Which is completely opposite of the truth.”
The quality of the show, which has been a hallmark of the ABC hit, has been maintained for 16 seasons and more than 300 episodes because of the skill and dedication of the production team handling the tremendous work load. Showrunner Green notes, “We’ve been fortunate to keep the core of our production team from day one, so we have an incredibly focused team. If you look at the output of the show, we put on the equivalent of a mini awards show every week. If you look at the Grammys or Emmys, they’re a big stage show with production numbers, dancing, singing, and video packages. We also do all that, week after week. We’re never complacent. We’re constantly growing, driving the energy of the show.”
The goal is to make every DWTS a special event. Green says, “We want to make every show so memorable you can’t afford to miss it.” Among those making that happen is Tom Bergeron, who won an Emmy last year for his exceptional duties as host. Now Green hopes his great director Alex Rudzinski will be recognized for his “extraordinary work.” Plus other technical categories worthy of nominations are Lighting Direction, Video Control, Camerawork, Costumes, Makeup, Music, etc. “Our lighting director Simon Miles makes the show look stunning, whether creating a dark, dramatic mood or a buoyant carnival number on the same ballroom stage.”
But it’s the Choreography that deserves the most credit for creativity. The pro-dancers/choreographers have to teach awkward celebrities to learn new dances and compete. Plus the choreographers have passion projects they do, routines for Macy’s Stars of Dance. “Last season Derek Hough pulled off a Macy’s routine that took place in a revolving room. It was amazing, live, and flawless. He did that on top of teaching an amateur how to do two professional dances in less than a week. It’s an incredible feat. Derek has been nominated, but neither he nor any of our dancers have won an Emmy for Choreography. More than one Emmy can be given out for exceptional Choreography, and given how much more complicated our show is from almost every other live show, the recognition is well deserved,” Green insists.
What’s in store for DWTS when it returns to ABC for Season 17 this fall? ABC has already announced that they will be combining the performance shows and results shows into one entertainment-packed night on Mondays, “which we will make compelling and push the limits of what we do,” Green promises. Until then he hopes there will be Emmy recognition for the outstanding reality-competition show that has been a vanguard of top level production values for live performance television.