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Beyonce's backing dancer in TV talent search

AN IRISH dancer who has shared the stage with superstars Beyonce and Justin Bieber is leading the search for Ireland's next big dance star.

Stillorgan man John Graham has been lined up as a judge on a new RTE Two show, Pump Up My Dance.

The 31-year-old, who is based in London, will team up with a panel of choreographers from various genres of dance to unearth Ireland's most promising star.

He told the Herald that he was thrilled to get the call about the upcoming series, which is set to air in the autumn, and hopes it will help promote hip-hop here.

"There are so many different styles in the show, but for me, I want to find someone who can get the dynamics, perform well and demonstrate how much they love dancing, but still do it the way we want."

John has worked alongside some of the music industry's biggest names, including Mariah Carey, JLS and Janet Jackson.

In 2010 he was enlisted as one of Beyonce's backing dancers for the MTV Europe Music Awards and spent nearly three days rehearsing with the chart-topper.

Each accomplished judge has posted a video online for hopefuls to learn before auditioning.

Twenty contestants will go through to the finals of the show and battle it out for the top spot in front of a studio audience at Dublin's Smock Alley Theatre.

"We filmed the initial part of the choreography six weeks ago and it was great fun," said John.

"There are few home-based teachers in it, which is brilliant. For me, it's lovely to come home and do it as well because I work a lot abroad and I live in the UK, so I only really go home to see my family.

"The things I've seen online show a lot of promise, so it's exciting," he added.

And the Dubliner has encouraged entrants into their late teens to come forward for the challenge, as he was 20 when starting out in his career.

"I'd always enjoyed dancing, but I never thought of it as my job or what I wanted to do, it was just for fun.

"I ended up doing a few classes and it's just progressed from there for me.

"It's not too late to start for anyone who's thinking about it."

labutler@herald.ie