The atmosphere is concentrated but friendly on this set which brings back memories on this Wednesday in July. There we find the familiar setting of Prodiges, the competition of young classical dancers, singers and musicians from France 2 which will celebrate its 10th anniversary during the end-of-year holidays, as well as the Divertimento orchestra and its conductor Zahia Ziouani. All except for a few details: funny statues of dinosaurs are trying to escape their cage and electric guitars as well as a drum set have appeared in the classical orchestra… Welcome to Prodiges Pop, a new avatar of the genre which debuts this Saturday evening, September 16th.

“We dance a lot backstage, we know the songs a little more, it’s a little less solemn,” laughs Faustine Bollaert who enthusiastically agreed to present this pop version of the show of which she has been at the helm since 2021. We finds the fundamentals of the genre. There are fifteen young people, aged 9 to 16, who will perform in the same three categories as in the classic version: instrument, singing, dance. First edition requires, they were spotted largely on social networks or in dance schools. “I find them a little less stressed [than the children who compete in the classic version, Editor’s note], comments the presenter, they have a certain freshness. We see that they are more used to social networks than to conservatory competitions. »

For the jury, however, there is a whole new cast: Blanca Li for dance, Chimène Badi for singing and Ibrahim Maalouf for instruments are the new faces. If everyone is delighted to be in such good company, they also want to bring their own unique touch, always with kindness but without sacrificing technical standards. “It’s an opportunity to show that instrumentalists can also put on a show, outside of the field in which we see them the most: classical,” argues the trumpeter for example when Chimène Badi expresses his search “perhaps to things a little less perfect and with more flaws but where we get the emotion” and Blanca Li of the “truth that is emerging”. On the other hand, everyone is unanimous on the professionalism of these children, hardworking, invested and passionate and their acute awareness of their self-image, shaped by social networks.

While rehearsals are in full swing on the set for the final of the competition (broadcast on Saturday September 23), we will therefore keep quiet about the details, in fact it is difficult not to notice how these children, for some teenagers but for others at barely out of childhood, know how to take care of their look, their effects and their relationship with the camera. You have to wait until they have left the stage to see them joking with each other, playing with the singers’ microphones or being reprimanded after having teasing the orchestra’s piano.

The show, which is recorded in good humor and glitter, follows the same path as its classic big sister, the young artists perform their number (Johnny Hallyday, the Jackson five and Juliette Armanet replaced Vivaldi, Handel and Mozart) before then receiving comments from the diligent and enthusiastic jury. Sometimes less technical and precise in their critiques than in the original version, due to the technical nature of classical music, but always keen to provide them with the best advice. And we are quickly taken in by the live music and the rhythmic staging.

Finally, in this competition where everyone is so professional, the children in the lead, some do not have the heart to putter around, wring their hands and cry before the performances even begin: the parents and brothers and sisters of the candidates , big winners in the “emotions” category.

Prodiges Pop, Saturday September 16 and 23 at 9:10 p.m. on France 2