Com­peti­tors are pint-sized, but the re­wards are big

Judge with Danc­ing With the Stars: Ju­niors says show was ‘mag­i­cal’ to work on

StarMetro Vancouver - - THE FEED - De­bra Yeo

There is no ques­tion for Mandy Moore, the chore­og­ra­pher who be­came fa­mous for the Os­car-win­ning movie La La Land, who the stars are in Danc­ing With the Stars: Ju­niors.

It’s the 12 youth­ful celebri­ties, who range in age from 9 to 14, com­pet­ing on the new re­al­ity show, a spinoff of lon­grun­ning ABC series Danc­ing With the Stars. It de­buts Sun­day on Global TV.

“Kids are magic, they’re fear­less, they love to learn. They don’t come in with a lot of pre­con­ceived no­tions about any­thing,” says Moore, who is also known for her Em­my­win­ning chore­og­ra­phy on the grown-up DWTS as well as So You Think You Can Dance.

“We found the kids (on DWTS: Ju­niors) were re­ally open to want­ing to be bet­ter. If we gave them crit­i­cism or a cri­tique or asked them to do some­thing bet­ter, they re­ally took it se­ri­ously to make it bet­ter for the next week.”

The “we” in­cludes DWTS pro­fes­sional dancer Val Ch­merkovskiy, and DWTS and fig­ure-skat­ing cham­pion Adam Rip­pon, Moore’s fel­low judges on Ju­niors.

Just don’t ex­pect Len Good­man-style grumpi­ness or Bruno To­nioli-level an­tics. The trio had lots of dis­cus­sions about how to han­dle the young com­peti­tors, who are paired with equally youth­ful pro­fes­sional dancers.

The judges didn’t want to be pa­tron­iz­ing to the kids, but “No one wants to see a kid cry.” Twelve child celebri­ties rang­ing in age from 9 to 14 are paired with youth­ful pro­fes­sional dancers on Danc­ing With the Stars: Ju­niors, a spinoff of the long-run­ning grown-up ABC series.

At the same time, “I’ve found that kids love au­then­tic­ity,” says Moore. “They can see when you’re be­ing truth­ful to them and they can un­der­stand that.”

So, the judges set­tled on help­ful cri­tiques pref­aced with com­pli­ments about things the kids did right.

“We ended up be­ing an­other set of eyes to help them get bet­ter.”

And get bet­ter, they did, Moore says. She be­lieves view­ers “are go­ing to be in­spired by these kids’ evo­lu­tion through the weeks. They grew a lot.”

“These kids would come out and be pulling out these tricks or pulling out styles, where you would think, ‘How are we gonna get away with an Argentine tango with a 10year-old?’ but we’re do­ing it.”

An­other thing that im­pressed Mandy Moore, Val Ch­merkovskiy and Adam Rip­pon are judges.

Moore was the ca­ma­raderie among the cast, “which doesn’t al­ways hap­pen on the big show.”

“That team dy­namic be­tween men­tor and pro and celebrity was re­ally beau­ti­ful to watch … the way they would care for each other and hold

hands when some­one was elim­i­nated (and were) lit­er­ally scream­ing their faces off” when their friends per­formed.

Moore, 42, got her own start as a dancer tak­ing lessons in a stu­dio in the small town of Breck­en­ridge, Colo., where she grew up.

She hopes there’s al­ways a place for dance on TV, but she’s also think­ing about “the next wave” and the fact that dance will likely have to be pre­sented dif­fer­ently as view­ers in­creas­ingly con­sume TV in non-tra­di­tional ways.

For now, she hopes view­ers en­joy watch­ing Danc­ing With the Stars: Ju­niors as much as she and the rest of the cast en­joyed mak­ing it.

“We felt it was mag­i­cal.”

Who’s com­pet­ing? Find out at thes­tar.com/tele­vi­sion

ABC/CORUS EN­TER­TAIN­MENT

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