It started with “So You Think You Can Dance.” Ordinary people got the chance to show off their dance-floor moves in hopes of fame and fortune.

Then along came “Dancing with the Stars.” Celebrities revealed their strengths and weaknesses as they battled for a little fame and no fortune.

Now it is time for the heavy hitters. NBC’s “Superstars of Dance” brings together dance champions from around the world to compete in a step-to-step showdown. The dancers come from Ireland, India, USA, Argentina, China, Russia, South Africa and Australia.

Executive producer Nigel Lythgoe needed a big name in dance to help host the show. That job went to Michael Flatley, the whirlwind who made “Lord of the Dance” an international sensation.

Flatley fielded questions from nondancing TV critics. Here’s what he had to say about the competition series:

Question: What made you decide to host the show?

Michael Flatley: Well, when Nigel first approached me I was fascinated by the thought that we could have a dance show that has professional dancers on there and that would show to American audiences for the first time all of the different styles of dance from around the world.

I think American audiences have never seen anything quite like this before. And I don’t think that they will again. It’s my feeling that they just won’t be able to get enough of it.

Q: What should the viewer expect to see?

MF: I think it’s a really nice mix of cultures. When you see the precision of the Irish team and the speed at which they tap in unison, almost like an Irish army.

And then you see the Groovaloos from America that just are all over the stage popping and jumping and hopping and spinning, and doing back flips – just a sensational mix. It’s intoxicating.

Q: It sounds like there will be a lot of different styles. How do judge one against the other?

MF: I think that that’s the exciting part of the whole show. That’s what makes it so entertaining because they have to judge dancers from other ethnic origins and other countries from around the world.

So for instance, you’ve got Master Wong who is the Grandmaster of the Shaolin Temple in China judging the Groovaloos from the streets here in America. And, you’ve got Maria Poji from Argentina, world class and just a sensational dancer and choreographer, critiquing the greatest Irish troupe in the world.

It’s the way other people see it. I think, that just makes for an intoxicating mix of cultures.

Q: Was there ever talk of you being a judge?

MF: I am very happy to be the host and present it. Dance has always been my passion in life. Presenting a show like this, I think for me, is a real highlight. Being able to represent all these different countries rather than just one of them, to present them to the United States for the first time in really such a classy way and such a colorful way is very exciting for me.

I must say I’m kind of glad I’m not judging because it’s an intense competition. Absolutely intense.

Q: Is there one dance style that is tougher on dancers than the others?

MF: Well I think that’s a very difficult question. How could I compare the Monks doing triple flips with swords and landing on their backs with the ballerina that stands on pointe for hours and hours and hours on end in a studio rehearsing for her opening solo?

How could I compare the young lads who lift up the girls over their heads with one arm from a laying down position and then stand up and spin her around for 15 minutes?

How could I compare the blisters and the tears of the Irish team, and the endless hours that they put in with swollen ankles and knees, and sore backs?

I think all of these dance forms deserve credit for the amount of energy and work that they do. I’m not sure you could isolate one specific dance style that’s more difficult than the other. I think they’re all tremendously difficult.


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