Paula Abdul told us everything we need to know about the ‘Masked Singer’ spin-off, ‘The Masked Dancer’

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The Tulip on ‘The Masked Dancer.’ Michael Becker/FOX
  • After the mega-success of “The Masked Singer,” a new spin-off is coming on December 27: “The Masked Dancer.”
  • The panelists will have to guess which celebrity is inside an elaborate costume – but this time, the clues are in the celebrities’ dance moves, rather than their singing voices.
  • The show originated from a spoof that was part of Ellen DeGeneres’ show.
  • One of the panelists, Paula Abdul, told Insider there will be extensive clues in the costumes, choreography, and the set design to help them identify the dancers.
  • The celebrities will also get to say a single word to help the panelists.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

It was only a matter of time. “The Masked Singer” is about to finish up its fourth season, and before you get nervous that you won’t have any “Masked” content to tide you over: Don’t worry. “The Masked Dancer” is here to save 2020.

The dancing spin-off will work much like its singing predecessor: A disguised celebrity will wear a wild costume and the panelists will try to guess who it is … except this time, the celebs are showing off their dance moves, not their voices. And, as panelist Paula Abdul told us while promoting her partnership with Voltaren Arthritis Pain Relieving Gel, that makes it a lot harder.

Keep scrolling to learn everything you need to know about “The Masked Dancer,” from the first look at the costumes to inside scoop from Abdul.


The show’s concept started from a spoof of “The Masked Singer” on Ellen DeGeneres’ talk show.

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‘The Masked Dancer’ on ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show.’ Warner Bros. Television Distribution

DeGeneres capitalised on the success of “The Masked Singer” by creating a spoof on her show – “The Masked Dancer,” in which she and tWitch, her show’s DJ, would watch a celebrity in head-to-toe costume dance and attempt to guess who it was.

Watch an example here.


DeGeneres is now an executive producer on the show.

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Ellen DeGeneres. Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

According to Variety, a Fox executive called up DeGeneres after the very first “Masked Dancer” segment aired on her show to speak with her about creating an actual spin-off based on the concept. Now, she’s an executive producer.


Craig Robinson will be hosting the show. Abdul called him a “phenomenal” host.

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Robinson on ‘The Masked Dancer.’ Michael Becker/FOX

Robinson is best known for his roles in “The Office,” “This Is the End,” “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” and “Hot Tub Time Machine.”

“He’s so talented. He’s funny, he’s really funny. And his banter with Ken [Jeong] was pretty funny,” Abdul told Insider.


The panelists are Ken Jeong, Paula Abdul, Brian Austin Green, and Ashley Tisdale.

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Jeong, Abdul, Green, and Tisdale. Getty Images

Jeong and Green are already part of the “Masked” universe, as Jeong is a panelist on “The Masked Singer” and Green was a contestant on season four (he was the Giraffe). Jeong is also the host of Fox’s other singing competition, “I Can See Your Voice.”

Abdul, of course, is no stranger to the judge’s table, as she was a judge on the first eight seasons of “American Idol,” and a judge on the American “X-Factor” and “So You Think You Can Dance.” She also is a successful choreographer and singer.

Tisdale is best known for her role as Sharpay in the “High School Musical” films. She’s also released three albums.


Abdul got involved because she knew the producers from her days on “American Idol” and “X-Factor.” She promised that the panelists have “tremendous synergy.”

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Paula Abdul on ‘The Masked Dancer.’ Fox

“We have a really tremendous synergy and energy that we all just fell into place immediately. [Jeong] was saying it took three seasons of ‘Singer’ to kind of get the comfortability that you felt on the first season of ‘Dancer,'” she said.

Jeong even gave her some advice when guessing. He told her, “It’s OK if the clues take you in a weird direction,” and added to not “overthink it. Just be calm. If you overthink it, it’s going to become extremely difficult.”


It will work a bit differently than “The Masked Singer,” as the panelists won’t be able to hear voices — instead, there will be more extensive clues that you “really have to depend on,” Abdul told Insider.

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‘The Masked Dancer.’ Michael Becker/FOX

As Abdul told us, the only difference between “Dancer” and “Singer” is that, well, it’s dancing.

“Because of that, it’s harder. I mean, you have to really depend on the clues. You can’t just hear a voice and go, ‘I’m familiar with that voice.’ You can’t say, ‘I’m familiar with that step,’ from someone who does it,” she said. “So, the clues are jam packed in the package pieces, but there are clues in some of the costumes, there are clues in some of the choreography, and also on the set design.”

Rob Wade, Fox’s head of alternative entertainment and specials, added to Variety that, “It doesn’t have to be a solo dance. It could be a group dance or dances with another person who doesn’t have a mask on, so you can have partners as well, which would give you the ability to have a variety of different dances. I think it’s a question of how you can get the clues out.”


Since it’s almost impossible to guess who someone is without hearing them speak, a new segment is being introduced called “Word Up.”

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The Disco Ball and Craig Robinson. Michael Becker/FOX

Basically, as Abdul explained to us, each contestant will get to say a single word with their voice unmodulated to help the panelists guess who is under the mask.


Like “The Masked Singer,” there will be guest panelists each week, as well.

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Mayim Bialik. Amanda Edwards/Getty Images

“The Big Bang Theory” star Mayim Bialik has confirmed on social media that she’s appearing in an episode.


All 10 costumes have been revealed. There’s Cotton Candy …

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Cotton Candy. Michael Becker/FOX

The costumes have to be much easier to move in than those in the “Masked Singer,” which is known for its elaborate masks, puppeteering, and huge costumes.

“The costumes are phenomenal. I mean, that’s the one big difference, even though they’re ornate and highly decorative, they’re not heavy. Whereas with ‘Singer,’ they’re sometimes extremely heavy and claustrophobic. This still is claustrophobic, but they made sure that all the costumes have incorporated a lot of Lycra and spandex, stretch to it,” Abdul said.


This is Cricket.

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Cricket. Michael Becker/FOX

Abdul teased that there both dancers and non-dancers among the contestants.


Here’s Exotic Bird.

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Exotic Bird. Michael Becker/FOX

It’s not all fun and games, though. Abdul told us that during dress rehearsals, a contestant fell off something from 10 feet up.

“It was really scary to see that happen. But when you have a costume on, sometimes that saves and breaks the fall so it’s not as bad,” she said.


This fellow is Sloth.

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Sloth. Michael Becker/FOX

He looks considerably more aerobic than your typical sloth.


This is Tulip.

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Tulip. Michael Becker/FOX

Abdul explained that the contestants are separated into two groups, Fire and Ice, to face off against each other, like the groups in “Singer.”


This fringe-covered friend is Zebra, one of Abdul’s favourites.

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Zebra. Michael Becker/FOX

“The Zebra was covered in every ounce of fringe you can imagine, so the Zebra had so much fun just moving because there was so much movement with the fringe,” she said.

“If I was going to be one of the characters that’s already there, I would want to be either Popcorn or Zebra, I think. I love, love, love those. That’s the Popcorn on ‘Singer’ and then Zebra on the ‘Dancer,'” she added.


This mustachioed contestant is Disco Ball.

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Disco Ball. Michael Becker/FOX

“The coolest thing is the contestants are having the time of their lives,” Abdul said. “No matter each week who was ever revealed, they say it’s the best experience they have ever had. It’s so much fun. There’s something about being behind a mask that is not only so relevant for today, but so freeing in the sense of performing and having the freedom of not being exposed.

“People who’ve never done this before or danced in front of people, let alone on a television show – it’s amazing to see the confidence that grows with them and just the freedom that they’re having to just really claim that stage and make it their own.”


Here’s Hammerhead.

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Hammerhead. Michael Becker/FOX

Hammerhead looks ready to take on the competition.


Ice Cube is another creative costume.

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Ice Cube. Michael Becker/FOX

While Abdul hasn’t tried any of the costumes on, “I wanted to steal so many of them,” she said.


One of Abdul’s other favourites is Miss Moth.

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Miss Moth. Michael Becker/FOX

“Her gown was just beautiful, beautiful, beautiful,” she said.


The show will premiere on December 27 — and watch out for Abdul’s guesses. She told us she guessed the most contestants correctly out of all the panelists.

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‘The Masked Dancer.’ Michael Becker/FOX

“I got the most guesses right,” she told Insider. “I mean, I can’t even tell you the method to the madness of it. It’s just the weirdest things. Some were so easy and some were really difficult.”

Watch the first teaser here.