China’s variety show format gaining popularity abroad
Published: May 19, 2022 11:55 PM

Produced by a Chinese team Street Dance Vi?t Nam is released on 2022 April 22. Photo: screenshot from website
Produced by a Chinese team Street Dance Vi?t Nam is released on 2022 April 22. Photo: screenshot from website

After a China-produced street dance variety show became popular in Vietnam, the new version, Street Dance Việt Nam, is being seen as a step for the Chinese entertainment industry toward creating the country’s own TV intellectual property (IP). 

Adapted from China’s 2018 online hit TV show Street Dance produced by Youku, the show is now being aired on Vietnamese TV as well as on YouTube.

“This is the first time that the Chinese variety show model is being used in another country. There was no previous experience to follow. We were trying to adapt to a more international market,” Lin Zhiqiang, vice president of Youku, told the Global Times.

For Lin, one of main reasons for the successful landing of Chinese IP in Vietnam is the local culture.

“Considering the high number of Chinese nationals in Vietnam, they can understand and accept Chinese culture,” said Lin. “Plus, street dance is a common way for young people to communicate around the world.”

The Vietnamese street dance show has inherited the competitive model and the essence of the original Chinese show. The production team provided detailed guidance on visual design and choreography. According to staff from Youku, the production can help “Chinese original IP to take root overseas.” 

With the rise in quality and huge investment in drama series and films, it is now common to see more Chinese TV dramas such as The Longest Day In Chang'an (2019) and Legend Of Fei (2020) in other countries, especially South Asia, given people’s familiarity with Chinese culture. 

“Many Chinese movies and variety shows have been exported to Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand, Myanmar and Vietnam. Detective Chinatown has become popular in Malaysia,” a representative of a translation company called Transn told the Global Times. 

Since 2017, the Belt and Road Initiative has pushed for films and TV dramas to establish an international vision in order to raise cultural exchanges to a global level, including conducting film-related academic discussions and exporting domestic movies and TV dramas.

But for TV variety shows, the situation is rather different. Very few of them have been exported to other countries successfully.

However, the street dance show has gained high ratings on Vietnamese local TV channels and on YouTube, with the most popular episode racking up 2.5 million views.

Talking about the challenges, Lin said the biggest obstacle is the local adaptation.

“We had our scheduled teleconference meetings to communicate the ideas, and the process of localization is an important part of the discussion. Now we are considering cooperation with more countries such as Singapore and Thailand, and in the West.”

Street Dance is both a Chinese variety show and also a typical example of exotic cultural symbols imported from the West.

As a successful original show in China, Street Dance has brought together many famous and talented dancers from different countries, which set off a wave throughout Asia.