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Online dance program debuts on Yahoo

Yahoo and Electus, the multiplatform content studio headed by former NBC entertainment head Ben Silverman, launches its first original, branded program, "Ready, Set, Dance!"

Yahoo and Electus, the multiplatform content studio headed by former NBC entertainment head Ben Silverman, debuted its first original, branded entertainment programming last night with "Ready, Set, Dance!"

The site, which is now live on Yahoo Music and sponsored by State Farm, merges the candid-camera phenomenon with reality television and "aims to tap into the pop culture interest in television dance shows and dance videos on the Web...."

The Yahoo site is relatively spare right now, with only one episode, titled "Magic Sparkle Chunk and Frisky Ris."

Reads the description of the show: "Will's 'Magic Sparkle Chunk' style is invading the tranquility of Madison Square Park, while Marisa and her moves will do their best to win over the Times Square crowds."

"Magic Sparkle Chunk" is as described, and it is both riveting and humiliating. Which is pretty much the point.

Even though no one knows about it, there are already 29 comments, such as: "He's got chutzpah--besides, if it's all about fun, he's got it. She was a bit too serious and honestly...just not as entertaining as the chunky shiney thingie wingie."

Yahoo's partnership with Electus was unveiled in January at the Consumer Electronics Show by Yahoo execs Joanne Bradford and Jimmy Pitaro, both of whom you can see in a BoomTown video interview below.

Ironically, U.S. sales head Bradford left Yahoo earlier this year for Demand Media, and Pitaro, as I reported yesterday, is expected to leave the company soon from his post as VP of media.

Silverman left the broadcast-television network under a cloud last year, but immediately announced he had struck a deal with Barry Diller's IAC/InterActiveCorp to form a studio--called Electus--to make multiplatform content that is backed by big brand advertisers.

The move is similar to a new kind of production company started several years ago by former ABC and Yahoo exec Lloyd Braun and his partner, Gail Berman.

Braun has created online programming for Microsoft, including an innovative celebrity site called Wonderwall, as well as producing television shows for networks.

Silverman's take was to focus on an episodic style, although much of what has been done online so far in this genre by many others has been only moderately successful.

But execs at Yahoo believed that advertisers have been looking for opportunities to put their brands near quality content online.

With the deal, which has been touted by CEO Carol Bartz, Yahoo is putting big hopes in Silverman, who had been a successful producer of television programming in his early career.

But his tenure at NBC was marked by a lot of negative publicity about him personally and, more importantly, by a sharp downturn in ratings.

Here is the first of 12 episodes:

And here is Bradford and Pitaro talking about the Electus deal:

Finally, here is the official press release.