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NBC reveals the identities of 'Superstars of Dance's teams and judges


By John Bracchitta, 12/30/2008 

NBC has announced the identities of the teams and judges that will be participating in Superstars of Dance, the new international dance competition series the network will premiere on Sunday, January 4 at 9PM ET/PT.

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Superstars of Dance will pit eight teams of dancers from eight different countries against each other.  The eight countries participating in the show are Argentina, Australia, China, Ireland, India, Russia, South Africa, and the United States.  Each team -- which will be comprised of two soloists, one duo and one larger group -- will showcase dances that are "unique to their nation."

Argentina's team will consist of a sensual cabaret artiste soloist, a contemporary Tango dancer soloist, an Argentinian Tango duo and a group performing Gaucho style dance. They will be coached by Sandar, a Tony-nominated choreographer and principal dancer in the original cast of Forever Tango.

Australia's team will feature a tap dance soloist, a contemporary dancer soloist, a Latin ballroom duo and a group performing contemporary dance. They will be coached by Jason Gilkison, an international ballroom champion who currently oversees choreography and artistic direction for the FloorPlay version of Burn the Floor.

China's team will be comprised of a traditional Chinese ribbon dancer soloist, a double whip soloist, an acrobatic ballet duo and the Shaolin Monks Kung Fu group "Shaolin: Wheel of Life." They will be coached by Matthew Ahmet, who went to China and found his way by becoming a Shaolin Monk.

Ireland's team will feature a team of Irish step dancers assembled from different groups currently performing all over the globe who will perform together as a team for the first time on Superstars of Dance. They will be coached by Marie Duffy Pask, the dance director and associate choreographer for Michael Flately's Lord of the Dance and Feet of Flames.

India's team will consist of a Bharantanyam dancer soloist, a Kathak soloist, a Bollywood duo and a group dancing in the Bhangra style. They will be coached by Nakul Dev Mahajan, the founder and artistic director of the premiere Bollywood dance company in the United States.

Russia's team will consist of a ballet dancer soloist from the world famous Bolshoi Ballet, a contemporary dancer soloist from the world famous Bolshoi Ballet, a ballroom duo and a group performing Cossak style of dance. They will be coached by Stanislav Issaev, a longtime principle dancer with the Moscow Ballet Theater who has been named the People's artist of Russia, the highest artistic honor in the country.

South Africa's team will feature a hip/hop dance soloist, an Afrofusion dance soloist, World Champion jive-inspired dance duo and a group performing in the Gumboot style of dance. They will be coached by Tandi Bhengu, a lifelong dancer and singer who founded the S.A.G.A. (South African Girls Abroad) program and dance troupe.

The United States' team will consist of a popping dancer soloist, a tap dancer soloist, World Champion cabaret style ballroom duo and a group performing hip hop. They will be coached by Marguerite Derricks, an Emmy-Award winning choreographer all three of the Austin Powers films and is currently choreographing the new version of Fame.

The teams will be judged by an eight-person judging panel that will feature one judge from each team's country, however each judge will not be allowed to score the performances of the team from their home country.

The judges will be Maria Pogee, an Argentinian who attended the world-famous school of the Theater Colon and has directed, staged and choreographed dance productions throughout the world; Kelley Abbey, an Australian dancer, actor, singer and choreographer; Master Haiyang Wang, the natural successor to become the next Abbott of the Shaolin Temple and a senior Buddhist in China; Daire Nolan, a Irish dancer who has previously performed as  the "Dark Lord" in Lord Of The Dance; Shirish Dayal, who has produced, directed and choreographed Indian stage shows for the past 15 years; Mikhail Smirnov, the director and founder of Barynya, a successful Russian folk dancing company; Harold Van Buuren, a Ballroom and Latin American championship dancer who has represented South Africa internationally on numerous occasions; and Tony Selznick, a longtime dancer who represents some of the biggest names in American dance.

Lord of the Dance star and recent Dancing with the Stars guest judge Michael Flatley will host the series along with former Miss USA Susie Castillo, who will serve as the show's co-host. Following Superstars of Dance's two-hour debut Sunday, January 4 at 9PM ET/PT on NBC, the show will air two-hour episodes in its regular Mondays at 8PM ET/PT time period beginning January 5.  The show's finale is scheduled to air January 26 at 8PM ET/PT.

NBC had ordered Superstars of Dance under the title Superstar Dancers of the World in November. It is being produced by Big Red 2 Entertainment, a new production entity formed by American Idol creator Simon Fuller and former Idol producer Nigel Lythgoe, who are executive producing the series.

(Photo credit NBC/Chris Haston)

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