There were 12 contenders going into the “World of Dance” Divisional Final on Wednesday night, September 5, but only four came out. So who advanced to the World Final to compete for the $1 million grand prize? And who left disappointed? Find out below in our live blog with all the minute-by-minute developments as they happen.
For the last two weeks the Cut round narrowed each of the four divisions to their top three contestants. Representing the Upper Division (age 18 and over with up to 4 members) were Ashley and Zack, Karen y Ricardo and Michael Dameski.
The three acts vying for the title in the Upper Team Division (age 18 and over with more than 4 members) were Poreotics, The Ruggeds and S-Rank.
The youngsters battling in the Junior Division (under 18 with up to 4 members) were Charity and Andres, Jaxon Willard and Sean and Kaycee.
And the three teams making up the Junior Team Division (under 18 with more than 4 members) were The Fabulous Sisters, The Lab and The Rock Company.
Going into Wednesday night’s show, Gold Derby’s users were predicting that Karen y Ricardo, S-Rank, Charity and Andres, and The Lab would win their respective divisions, with Karen y Ricardo favored to then win the World Final next week. On paper it’s hard to bet against Karen y Ricardo. The Latin cabaret duo have recorded three of the five highest scores for the entire season: 99.7 for their Qualifier, 98.3 for their Duel, and 99 for the Cut.
The only competitors from any division who have put up scores that rival Karen y Ricardo are Junior Division duo Charity and Andres, who achieved the first perfect 100 score in the show’s history during the Duels, and Junior Team Division crew The Lab, who scored 98.3 during the Cut. But since they’re all from different divisions the soonest we’ll be able to see them compete against each other is next week’s World Final — provided they all made it out of the Divisional Finals.
Follow along below starting at 9:00pm to see who made it through to the final round (all times listed are Eastern).
9:00pm — “This is the time to fight,” says Ne-Yo about the challenge facing the contestants in the Divisional Final. “This is a fight to the death right now.”
9:01pm — Ballerina Misty Copeland is joining the show once again as a guest judge. She appeared last season to judge the Cut.
Upper Division: Karen y Ricardo
9:04pm — “Their dancing is stunning,” notes Jennifer Lopez about this power couple. Lopez is mentoring the Upper Division contestants, and while is is amazed by this couple, she wants to see more than their best signature skills. She wants them to surprise her, which is tough to do given what they’ve done already and the ridiculous scores they’ve gotten for it.
9:07pm — These two were as good as I’ve seen them, with inventive tricks even I didn’t see coming. so I don’t think I would expect much less from their scores. They got standing ovations from Derek Hough and Ne-Yo. Lopez thought it was another “stellar” performance. Derek was worried he’d be tired of seeing the same kinds of performances over and over again, but they kept showing him new quality dancing. Misty was thrilled seeing them for the first time, and Ne-Yo didn’t have much to criticize at all. But we’re not going to find out the scores until the other two acts in the division have performed.
Upper Division: Ashley and Zack
9:13pm — Lopez praises their genuine emotional storytelling, but this time they’re trying to raise their game with a new prop: a big red ribbon that winds between them. Fellow mentor Ciara encourages them to really sell the emotions of the dance.
9:16pm — I thought it was good work from the duo, and good use of the prop, and bonus points for using a version of Sara Bareilles’s “Gravity,” though I don’t think they matched Karen y Ricardo, and Lopezand Copeland noticed that they missed some of their tricks. Ne-Yo also thought their movements needed more room to breathe. Copeland wanted less of the prop and more pure dancing from the duo. But Hough disagrees, thinking the prop really enhanced the routine. Lopez praised them for their emotional commitment in spite of the tricks they missed. I don’t think there’s any chance they’ll score higher than Karen y Ricardo after those critiques, so Michael Dameski is the only one who can take down this season’s giants.
Upper Division: Michael Dameski
9:22pm — He has been “technical perfection” in every round, says Lopez. I agree. Dameski is actually my favorite contestant in the Upper Division. I think the quality and intensity of his movements are peerless. But he’s nervous being a soloist and having no one to bounce ideas off of. Lopez wants to see more of the “torment and madness” that his choreography seems to suggest. Ciara thinks he needs to go into “warrior mode,” and he’s bringing a “full-blown ninja outfit,” which hopefully is an indication of the intensity we’ll see from him.
9:26pm — Great intensity, great use of lighting and staging that enhanced but didn’t distract from the routine, and really great emotional expression and intense ninja moves — crouching tiger, hidden Dameski. Hough thought it was the perfect character to choose. Ne-Yo thinks he was “perfection.” Copeland said, “You have it all.” Lopez felt there was something missing when she saw it the first time, but he made the emotional connection this time around. I think either he or Karen y Ricardo would be deserving, but I’m still partial to Dameski.
Upper Division Results
Karen y Ricard Scores: Ne-Yo (95), Misty (94), Jennifer (96), Derek (96) — Average: 95.3
Ashley and Zack Scores: Ne-Yo (84), Misty (86), Jennifer (87), Derek (90) — Average: 86.8
Michael Dameski Scores: Ne-Yo (100), Misty (98), Jennifer (95), Derek (98) — Average: 97.8
9:31pm — Introducing Michael Dameski, the giant killer! I’m a little surprised that Karen y Ricardo’s scores weren’t higher since I felt their performance was on par with what they’ve done before. Dameski actually scored lower than any of Karen y Ricardo’s past performances. I wonder if Karen y Ricardo’s routines were all so similar that the judges were a little less enthusiastic the fourth time around. Dameski has shown many more different emotional shadings over the course of his four routines, so I think Dameski is the right choice as the Upper Division champ.
9:33pm — I’ve gotta say, though, I feel a little bad for Ashley and Zack. I didn’t think they matched either of their rivals, but their scores were still a little lower than I thought they deserved, especially from Ne-Yo.
Junior Team Division: The Lab
9:36pm — Derek Hough is mentoring The Lab. “They’re in it to win it,” he says of their performances up to this point. He warns them that they’re taking a risk with their props, but the routine is unfinished and need to end it with a bang. “Leave nothing behind,” says Ciara. She didn’t give them much in the way of constructive advice; she didn’t seem to think they need it.
9:38pm — Wow, they didn’t just add prop work to their routine. It’s an entire classroom set with desks and book bags, all used impeccably well with great synchronicity, creativity, and attitude. All four judges leaped out of their seats, and Ne-Yo even rushed the stage and celebrated with them. Lopez “loved every disruptive minute of it.” Misty thinks they’re “on another level” from when she saw them last season. The routine ended with the desks flipped to spell “WOD Junior Team Champs?” and Ne-Yo thinks they might be able to knock that question mark right off. This was by far the strongest judges’ reaction of the night so far. Those scores are going to be massive.
Junior Team Division: The Rock Company
9:42pm — Hough encourages them to be as strong and sharp as possible if they want to beat their rivals. Ciara wants them to let the “joyfulness” flow through them when they perform. But it can’t be easy having to perform after The Lab got such incredible raves from the judges.
9:47pm — They also make good use of the stage, incorporating a lit-up white table. The light adds to the mood and gives them a platform on which they’re able to add depth and visual layers, but it didn’t wow as much as The Lab did. Lopez thought it was “beautifully executed.” Hough thinks they’re “fantastic dancers” and that their performance was “gorgeous.” Ne-Yo thought it was a “great job.” Misty thinks they have abilities beyond their years, but while the words from the judges were enthusiastic, the emotions coming from them were rather subdued. The judges definitely weren’t as impressed as they were by The Lab.
Junior Team Division: The Fabulous Sisters
9:50pm — Hough loves how they turn simple moves into dynamic routines, but they need to work on their transitions this time around. And Ciara surprises them by speaking to the Fukushima ladies in Japanese. She loves how they combine traditional Japanese culture with American pop culture. I’m really rooting for Fabulous Sisters, they’re my favorite team in this division because they bring something new to the table.
9:52pm — I loved their use of a remixed “Wrecking Ball” by Miley Cyrus, lots of really intense movements, well coordinated and impactful, though I would say not as exciting as their “Game of Thrones”-esque showstopper during the Cut. Lopez think they’s “some of the fiercest competitors who have ever hit this stage.” Ne-Yo thinks they’re “incredible” too. Copeland felt it was “feminine but strong.” Hough thought it was “fantastic” as well. But again, the judges’ words belied their conviction. While they seemed to really like all of these teams, they didn’t respond to anyone nearly as strongly as The Lab. I think The Lab have got this in the bag.
Junior Team Division Results
The Fabulous Sisters Scores: Ne-Yo (93), Misty (92), Jennifer (91), Derek (92) — Average: 92
The Rock Company Scores: Ne-Yo (91), Misty (92), Jennifer (91), Derek (92) — Average: 91.5
The Lab Scores: Ne-Yo (100), Misty (99), Jennifer (100), Derek (100) — Average: 99.8
10:00pm — Okay, I thought The Lab were fantastic, and they absolutely deserved to win with this performance, but I thought they were a wee bit over-scored, and this isn’t the first time I’ve thought so. This was the second highest scoring routine in the show’s history. And it would have been the second perfect score in “World of Dance” history without the guest judge factored in. I didn’t think it was quite that good.
10:02pm — The Fabulous Sisters were crying after they were eliminated. Lopez encouraged them to come back next year even better. Backstage they vowed to return so they can get their “revenge.” And I hope they bring more of that “Game of Thrones” flavor they brought during the Cut.
Upper Team Division: The Ruggeds
10:02pm — Ne-Yo is mentoring this division. Unfortunately, one member of this team tore his ACL and meniscus while rehearsing, so now he’s just here for moral support.
10:04pm — I love the use of light and darkness with perfectly timed spotlights and shadows during this routine, which has an eerie werewolf theme. And the injured dancer joined the performance anyway as a non-dancing centerpiece, kind of the leader of the pack. I thought that was a great choice. Ne-Yo thought they did as “fantastic job.” Copeland thought they were “wonderful” and loved how thought out the performance was. Lopez thought it was “beautiful and creative.” But I think the door is open for the other two teams. The judges weren’t Lab-level enthusiastic.
Upper Team Division: S-Rank
10:11pm — Ne-Yo likes that they’re trying new things, but worries that they’re straying too far from what they normally do. they need to stick to their strengths. Then they lose their minds when they meet Ciara, who thinks they’re “dripping with so much swag.” Some of them left their jobs to compete on this show, it had better be a lot of swag.
10:13pm — What I love about S-Rank is that even when they’re not performing big moves and tricks, their subtle movements are so precise and well timed to the music and well synchronized among the group. It’s a futuristic routine where they’re wearing silver hoodies, and it took a lot of swag for them not to look like dancing baked potatoes. Kudos! It made Copeland “feel everything.” Hough thinks their “musicality is top level,” but he didn’t think it was quite the showstopper he was hoping for. They left the door open too, but I think they slightly outdid The Ruggeds.
Upper Team Division: Poreotics
10:16pm — This was my favorite group during the Cut round, when they performed a cheeky number that threw affectionate shade at Derek Hough and turned Vanessa Carlton‘s “A Thousand Miles” into a hip-hop banger. I’ve got high hopes for this performance.
10:20pm — Mentor Ne-Yo how deftly Poreotics have used their humor, but this time he things to increase their wow factor. So he wasn’t wowed by “A Thousand Miles” in the last round? C’mon, Ne-Yo! Ciara loves their humor too and appreciates how dimensional their routines are.
10:22pm — This routine had some great moments with really playful shapes, but one of them took a spill right in front of the judges’ table. If you’re going to fall, try to do it somewhere near the back, especially because I don’t think they brought quite the wow factor Ne-Yo was looking for, and he tells them as much. Ne-Yo also missed the humor they brought before. Copeland also didn’t see what they were really capable of. I’d have to agree: this was impressive, but felt like a step down from their last performance. I think they’re dead in the water, especially after that fall since the rest of the performance didn’t rock the judges’ world.
Upper Team Division Results
Poreotics Scores: Ne-Yo (85), Misty (87), Jennifer (87), Derek (88) — Average: 86.8
S-Rank Scores: Ne-Yo (96), Misty (93), Jennifer (94), Derek (93) — Average: 94
The Ruggeds Scores: Ne-Yo (92), Misty (90), Jennifer (92), Derek (92) — Average: 91.5
10:27pm — S-Rank wins the division, but I thought this division as a whole was a bit of a let-down compared to the other divisions. S-Rank are the lowest scoring division champs so far, and I don’t think they delivered the intensity and innovation they’re going to need to win the World Final against Michael Dameski, The Lab and whoever wins the Junior Division next. And the Junior Division is fire too, so S-Rank are really going to need to take it to another level to win the season.
Junior Division: Charity and Andres
10:33pm — This is one of my favorite acts of the season. Unfortunately, Charity broke her toe on her dominant foot while preparing, so she thinks she might be in trouble with this routine. But NBC previewed this routine already, and it’s outstanding, so one little broken foot can’t bring her down.
10:35pm — Watching this performance again knowing that she did it with a broken toe, she really is extraordinary. Such power and intensity, but mostly importantly they control their movements with such incredible ease. I hope the judges give her a broken toe bonus because she admits she’s in some pain after that performance. “Women are the strongest beings on this planet,” says Copeland. Lopez thought it was especially “stellar” for Andres — and I think that’s especially true since he had to compensate for her injury. But the judges didn’t seem quite as enthralled as they were when they got their perfect score during the Duels. I think that leaves the door open for the next two acts, who are both capable of blowing the roof off.
Junior Division: Jaxon Willard
10:41pm — Willard was extraordinary in the Cut round, but I thought he was drastically underscored. His mentor Jenna Dewan thinks his performance is grounded on the floor, so he should add more of the high-flying maneuvers the judges have loved so much. What I wouldn’t give to see a duet between him and Michael Dameski.
10:43pm — Another health scare? Willard needs an oxygen tank from “athletic-induced asthma.” Don’t kill yourselves, kids! Stay healthy so you can quality for “So You Think You Can Dance” or “America’s Got Talent” next year.
10:46pm — Hardly anyone can move quite like he does, and this time his staging was more creative with a couple of mirrors up on stage with him, but I don’t think the choreography was quite as dynamic as it was during the previous rounds. He tells the judges the routine was about finding himself as a person. Hough thought the routine was “great” but needed more connective tissue between the movements. I agree. It wasn’t as full as his last routine, so I think Charity and Andres are still out front, but it might be close.
Junior Division: Sean and Kaycee
10:51pm — Jenna has been “blown away” by 16-year-old Sean’s sophisticated choreography, but she things their work-in-progress routine needs a big breakout moment, something showstopping. And Ciara encourages them not to overthink the routine despite the intensity of the competition.
10:54pm — More impeccable, precise movements from these two — and a nice rain shower in the end which added a nice creative flourish — but I think what Dewan was looking for was still a bit lacking. I didn’t think there was a wow moment. There was no Ne-Yo thought it was one of their best performances. Copeland was “blown away.” Those were some great critiques, but I don’t think it was quite enough.
Junior Division Results
Charity and Andres Scores: Ne-Yo (93), Misty (93), Jennifer (92), Derek (94) — Average: 93
Jaxon Willard Scores: Ne-Yo (87), Misty (89), Jennifer (87), Derek (88) — Average: 87.8
Sean and Kaycee Scores: Ne-Yo (91), Misty (92), Jennifer (95), Derek (91) — Average: 92.3
10:57pm — I’m surprised by how close that was, but I think they low-balled Charity and Andres again, just like they did in the last round. And the 95 Lopez gave to Sean and Kaycee were a little high in my opinion. But now Charity and Andres are the lowest scoring champs coming out of the Divisional Final. They deserved a little better than that, but I hope they explode in the World Final because they and Michael Dameski are my favorite competitors going into next week’s show.
11:00pm — What’s especially interesting is that, just like last season, this will be a battle of contemporary vs. hip-hop. Last year Les Twins (hip-hop) won with Eva Igo (contemporary) as the runner-up. This year you’ve got two hip-hop acts (S-Rank and The Lab) going up against two contemporary acts (Michael Dameski and Charity and Andres).