“World of Dance” returned on Tuesday night, May 29, for a second season pitting the best dancers in the world against each other in the hopes of winning the $1 million grand prize. Jenna Dewan hosts the series, which is judged by Emmy winning choreographer and six-time “Dancing with the Stars” champ Derek Hough, Grammy winning recording artist Ne-Yo, and singer-actress-dancer Jennifer Lopez, who also executive produces the series. So what happened on night one? Find out below in our live blog with all the minute-by-minute developments.
Season one of “World of Dance” featured performers competing in three divisions: Upper (individuals and groups up to four members, age 18 and over), Team (more than four members, age 18 and over), and Junior (under 18). Those divisions are back for season two, in addition to a fourth: Junior Team, whose acts consist of five or more members under the age of 18.
So who advanced from week one’s first “Qualifiers” round? Each performance needed 80 points or more from the judges to advance to the “Duels,” where the dancers go head to head against others in their division in a single-elimination round. Then in “The Cut” the remaining competitors will battle for the two final spots in their divisions. And the “Division Finals” will determine the one act from each division that moves on to the million-dollar “World Final.”
Below, follow along for our commentary on all the developments and performances as they happened starting at 10:00pm Eastern. And check out our exclusive video interviews with Lopez, Hough, Dewan and Ne-Yo at the bottom of this post. All times listed below are Eastern.
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10:00 p.m. – The world’s biggest dance competition is back! From all over the world, on a brand new stage, the best in dance are set to perform on Season 2 of “World of Dance.” The best of the best will leave it all on the floor in their quest for the one million dollar grand prize. Let’s get started!
10:08 p.m. – First up are the Desi Hoppers, a hip-hop group from Mumbai, India. They won a dance competition in their home country and now they’re ready to take on the world. I love how they infuse their own culture into the dance. It almost feels like a Bollywood hip-hop routine. It wasn’t the cleanest routine, but the joy they exuded made it so much fun to watch.
10:10 p.m. Jennifer called the routine “impeccable.” Ne-Yo said the entertainment value was through the roof. Derek said they nailed all their criteria. But will they score enough points to advance? It takes 80 points to make the Duel round. Ne-Yo gave them a 98, Jennifer a 94 and Derek a 96 for an average score of 96. Desi Hoppers are moving on!
10:20 p.m. – Next up are a pair of junior dancers from Los Angeles named Sean & Kaycee. They are a fusion hip-hop duo who met eight years ago at a dance competition. After working together on a dance video, they decided to remain partners. After stepping to the stage, they blindfolded themselves and went to work on their contemporary piece. They have great lines, incredibly quick feet and incredible chemistry for such a young pair.
10:22 p.m. – Jennifer was actually moved to tears by Sean & Kaycee’s performance. She loved the blindfolds and the idea of being unable to see one another in a relationship. Derek thought the choreography was intelligent and said they “stand out.” For their scores, Ne-Yo scored them at 97, Jennifer at 96 and Derek at 95, for an average of 96. Scores are coming in hot this season! Sean & Kaycee are moving on.
10:28 p.m. – Next, the crowd is ready to make some noise for S-Rank, a hip-hop group all wearing matching outfits. This team is a hard-hitting, tightly knit crew but I don’t feel like I have just seen anything new. Jennifer called it one of the “stankiest” routines she’s ever seen. Overall the judges enjoyed the routine much more than I did. For their scores Ne-Yo gave them 92, Jennifer 91 and Derek 90 for an average score of 91. S-Rank is moving on.
10:33 p.m. – Waiting in the wings for his chance to shine is 16-year old contemporary dancer, Jaxon Willard. When he was a baby, Jaxon’s parents adopted him. He was an African-American who was raised in a white family and did not notice he was different until he was bullied in junior high school. He now expresses himself through dance and is ready to show the world who he is. Dancing to “Fragile,” Jaxon immediately shows off his incredible lines and athleticism. Through his expressive face, gymnastics and beautiful choreography, Jaxon just knocked this out of the park!
10:38 p.m. – Jennifer called it a “very special moment” as many audience members were holding back tears. He explained his dance by saying “it’s okay to be vulnerable and it’s okay to be sad.” Ne-Yo was “proud as hell” and applauded Jaxon for showing his emotions. Derek was incredibly emotional as he called Jaxon “beautiful” and said he embodies what it means to be a dancer. For their scores, Ne-Yo gave Jaxon 95, Jennifer 96 and Derek 91 for an average of 94. Jaxon is moving on. I can’t wait to see what he does next!
10:45 p.m. – Hitting the floor next is Flip, an all-female dance crew that is ready to bring the energy! The fact that they can maintain this level of intricacy at such a high speed is impressive. Ne-Yo isn’t sure how competitive they can be. Jennifer said they need more diversity in their dance. Derek enjoyed the contrast between the music and the choreography. For their scores, Ne-Yo gave them 81, Jennifer 83 and Derek 84 for an average of 82.7. Flip made it through by the skin of their teeth and will need to come harder if they want to stay in this competition.
10:50 p.m. – Up next are Hilty & Bosch, a locking duo from Osaka, Japan. They consider themselves “grandfathers of dance” at the ripe old ages of 35 and 36. They have already won some of the biggest dance competitions in the world and even some of their competitors are huge fans. Now they want to prove they are still the best. Dressed in snazzy white suits, Hilty & Bosch delivered an energetic, exciting and acrobatic performance. It’s difficult not to smile as you watch these two perform. It’s like “Saturday Night Fever” for 2018.
10:53 p.m. – Jennifer enjoyed the performance, but compared it to last year’s competition and said they need to up their difficulty. Derek acknowledged that they are legends in the dance community, but wonders how they will hold up in the competition. Ne-Yo agreed, calling it “entertaining as hell” but he isn’t sure it’s competitive. For their scores, Ne-Yo gave them 79, Jennifer 78 and Derek 78 for an average score of 78.3. Wow! Hilty & Bosch have been eliminated from the competition.
10:57 p.m. – Last to perform are Karen Y Ricardo, a Chilean ballroom duo that has been dancing together since they were children. They started dancing in the streets to earn money for their families, but have gone on to win 9 world championships. These two walked out and exude serious sex appeal. Things kicked off with Ricardo effortlessly tossing Karen around his shoulders before he lifted her over his head and went down into the splits. What??? They proceeded into a series of moves my eyes could hardly keep up with. Their lifts are insane! Bravo! Karen Y Ricardo definitely won the night.
10:59 p.m. – Jennifer said they “set the stage on fire!” They also announced that after dancing together since the age of nine, they are now getting married. Aww. Derek enjoyed their dance but loved their competitiveness. Ne-Yo said it was “the first million dollar performance we’ve seen yet.” For their scores, Ne-Yo gave them 100, Jennifer 100 and Derek 99 for an average of 99.7. Wow! That’s quite a start. I think we have a frontrunner. It was the highest score ever in the history of the competition – and it’s only the qualifiers round. That’s a wrap for episode one. That was fun!