‘World of Dance’ The Cut 1 recap: Who gave the best performances in this do-or-die round? [UPDATING LIVE BLOG]

Season two of “World of Dance” reached another milestone on August 22. After eight weeks of the Qualifiers and four weeks of the Duels the show entered the Cut, when the judges narrowed down the competition even further. There were 30 acts left at this stage of the game, but only a dozen will survive the Cut: the top three per division, who will then advance to the Division Finals. So who stood out tonight? Find out below in our live blog with all the minute-by-minute developments as they happen.

There are seven contestants competing in the Cut for the Upper Division (age 18 and over with up to 4 members): Karen y Ricardo, Michael Dameski, BDash and Konkrete, Ashley and Zack, DNA, Alisa and Joseph and MarInspired.

There are eight troupes in the Upper Team Division (age 18 and over with more than 4 members): S-Rank, Embodiment, Desi Hoppers, The Bradas, Lock n LOL Crew, Poreotics, Connection and The Ruggeds.

There are eight contenders in the Junior Division (under 18 with up to 4 members): Charity and Andres, Jaxon Willard, Victoria Caban, Avery and Marcus, Sean and Kaycee, Josh and Taylor, Jonas and Ruby and Madison Brown.

And there are seven groups representing the Junior Team Division (under 18 with more than 4 members): The Fabulous Sisters, The Lab, Expressenz, Quad Squad, Flip, The Rock Company and The Pulse.

What did the judges think of the acts that took the stage tonight, and what did you think of the results? Find out below starting at 9:00pm (all times listed are Eastern), and chime in with your own thoughts in the comments.

9:00pm — “The Cut is by far the toughest round yet,” says Ne-Yo about this round. Derek Hough adds, “It is cutthroat.” Of course, it will be the judges cutting the throats. But they are bringing some special guest mentors to work with the contestants, including Savion Glover and Derek’s sister Julianne Hough.

9:02pm — Two divisions will be narrowed down tonight, starting with Junior Team, who will be working with Savion Glover.

Flip

9:04pm — “They’ve only got 90 seconds so it has to be a clear story” or “explosively dynamic,” says Jennifer Lopez. “Don’t just dance, bring me in,” Savion tells the Flip hip-hop troupe.

9:06pm — I really like how the red glover on Flip highlight their coordinated movements against their shiny black costumes. Very clean and appealing, though I don’t think it’s unbeatable. It’s not necessarily the most innovative routine I’ve seen. Derek especially liked the “group visuals.” Ne-Yo appreciated their energy and said they were a “great start” to the night, and Jennifer agreed. These scores will be good, but maybe not mind-blowing.

Scores: Ne-Yo (87), Jennifer (88), Derek (90) — Average: 88.3

9:08pm — Good performance, strong score, but it’s actually lower than the score they got during the Duels (90.3), and since they’re competing for just three slots, I don’t think anyone should feel comfortable with a score south of 90.

Expressenz

9:13pm — This contemporary team went from an 87 score in the Qualifiers to a 94 score in the Duels, so they’re on the way up. Jennifer warns them about how “brutal” this round is, and they need to make sure they treat every rehearsal like the competition, and treat the competition like they need to be better than they’ve ever been.

9:16pm — This routine to a darker version of “California Dreamin'” started slow, but it had great musicality, and when they started with their signature synchronized spins, I was really impressed. Ne-Yo thought the spins might have been too long, but Jennifer was happy to see the spins and thought it was a “strong routine.” Derek adored their technique. But this is another team that I think left the door opened. I’m not sure how they’ll compare to Flip

Scores: Ne-Yo (86), Jennifer (87), Derek (88) — Average: 87

9:18pm — The judges weren’t blown away by this performance, and honestly neither was I, not at the level that I think will hold up in the division.

The Pulse

9:19pm — Ballroom team is up next. Jennifer thinks they need to step up their game, especially with a dance style as intense as paso doble, but only got an abbreviated look at their routine, which looked good: the right intensity, and good work with their capes, but not spectacular.

9:20pm — Ne-Yo thought it was their best performance yet, but they only averaged 88 (we didn’t see the individual judges’ scores on this one), which puts them in second place. All of the first three times are grouped together within less than two points of each other. Honestly I could see all three of them getting knocked out by other teams.

The Lab

9:24pm — This is the round where The Lab was eliminated last year, so they’re looking for redemption. And even their rehearsal brought Jennifer and Savion to tears. The routine was inspired by a tragic experience for one of the team members that left her “broken,” but didn’t reveal on air what that tragedy was. Regardless, it sounds like it’ll be the kind of emotional routine that the judges tend to love, so I’m already liking their chances.

9:28pm — They brought a few high-flying tricks, and generally had the most expressive routine so far. They got a standing ovation from the judges. Jennifer loved their emotionality. They talked again about the emotions that went into the routine, and now Derek is crying: “You’re so powerful as a team,” he told them. Ne-Yo said “victory, hands down” when you show him that depth of emotion. Sorry, Expressenz, it looks like you’re toast. They’re definitely getting the highest score in the division thus far.

Scores: Ne-Yo (100), Jennifer (97), Derek (98) — Average: 98.3

9:31pm — It’s official: Expressenz are out, and it looks like The Lab are a lock for the Division Final with that score. I’ll be honest, though. That score was very high for the routine that I saw. It was an excellent performance, but one of the highest scores in the history of the show? And a perfect score from Ne-Yo? I think they got a 10 point bonus just for making Derek cry. And we never actually learned the story behind the routine. A young dancer is well within her rights not to reveal something deeply personal on national television, but the show built a lot of that segment around a story we never heard.

Quad Squad

9:35pm — I love the unique physical strength this team brings to the show with the leg muscles that gives this team their name, but it’s another abbreviated routine. We saw bits and pieces of the performance and bits of pieces of the judging — Jennifer was distracted by the intense lasers and lighting, and Ne-Yo thought they weren’t up to the level of the competition. With an 86 average, they were eliminated.

The Rock Company

9:38pm — They had amazing scores in the Qualifiers. Then they dropped about 10 points in the Duels. Jennifer and Savion think they need to improve their storytelling, so they give the team some narrative tips to really express the theme of longing to be welcomed into a group.

9:39pm — Jennifer and Savion definitely whipped their storytelling into shape. It was a crystal clear narrative, and it got a standing ovation from the judges. Yep, they’re probably safe for one of the three spots. Jennifer thought it was a return to form after they got the highest qualifying score in their division. Ne-Yo thought it was “technically stunning” and emotionally “authentic.”

Scores: Ne-Yo (93), Jennifer (93), Derek (95) — Average: 93.7

9:42pm — They’re in second place so far, which guarantees they’ll advance to the next round, but given how high the scores for The Lab were, I actually think this troupe was underscored, especially since The Rock Company managed to make the most of such an overused song: “Hallelujah” by Jeff Buckley.

9:45pm — Right now Flip are the team on the bubble with a score of 88.3, so that’s the bar The Fabulous Sisters will have to clear next.

The Fabulous Sisters

9:47pm — I’ve really appreciated how unique and expressive this team has been in previous round, so I’d give them the edge up against Flip for that last slot in the next round.

9:48pm — Jennifer loves how complete their performances usually are, but she thinks this needs a lot of work: it starts strong, but then trails off. She wants them to express more of a “purpose” with their routine.

9:50pm — I think they definitely found their purpose. It had a eerie regal theme that was serving me Cersei Lannister realness. I think that was my favorite routine from this division. Ne-Yo thought they made something “amazing” out of elementary movements. Jennifer thought it greatly improved from rehearsals and it stood out from the rest of the competition; I agree that there’s no one like them in this competition, so I think they belong in the Division Finals. Derek thought their choreography was “off the charts.”

Scores: Ne-Yo (94), Jennifer (97), Derek (98) — Average: 96.3

9:54pm — They’re in, and deservedly so. I preferred them to The Lab, who got that astronomical 98.3 score, but I think the right three teams made it through. The Fabulous Sisters, The Lab, and The Rock Company are through to the next round. The Upper Division is next, with Derek Hough and Julianne Hough taking over mentoring duties.

Michael Dameski

9:59pm — Michael is the only soloist in this division, so I’m really rooting for him, especially because the fluidity of his movements has been so unparalleled. He’s dedicating tonight’s performance to his grandparents, who have been a big part of his life but are in declining health. They’re back home in Australia, so it’s difficult to be away from them. Julianne advises him to amplify the emotions. “Connecting to the emotional story behind it will really set him apart,” she tells him. And after what we saw earlier tonight, she’s definitely right.

10:01pm — I thought that was a fantastic performance, full of emotion, flowing elegance, technique. Jennifer loved how “spontaneous” he made it look, and he danced it “like an angel.” Derek appreciated that the acrobatics were connected by “movement and fludity.” Ne-Yo “felt the emotion” and appreciated the difficulty of some of his subtler but no less difficult movements.

Scores: Ne-Yo (91), Jennifer (95), Derek (93) — Average: 93

10:05pm — Great score, though I think Ne-Yo low-balled him a bit. I think Michael’s combination of emotional connection, fluid choreography and seemingly effortless execution warranted more along the lines of what Jennifer gave out.

DNA

10:09pm — This is the furthest this ballroom duo have made it in the competition. They were eliminated during the Duels in season one. But during rehearsals, Julianne and Derek notice that they look a little wobbly and unsure.

10:11pm — They’re dancing to “I Could Fall in Love” by Selena. I wonder if that’s for Jennifer’s benefit. Smooth and elegant throughout, though I wouldn’t rank them as high as Michael Dameski. Jennifer loved the “surrender and trust” between them, which is what Derek and Julianne had worked with them on. Ne-Yo thought it was “elegant” and “beautiful to watch.” Derek thought the routine was “solid,” greatly improved from their rehearsal.

Scores: (90), (89), (89) — Average: 89.3

10:14pm — Good score, well deserved, though I’m not sure it will hold up.

Alisa and Joseph

10:15pm — Another abbreviated performance segment for these two, which I don’t think bodes well. Decent work from both of these hip-hop dancers, but somewhat underwhelming. Jennifer thought it was “lovely,” but didn’t think it would hold up against other competitors in their division. They scored 86.3, and I agree that it definitely won’t hold up.

BDash and Konkrete

10:20pm — Judging from their previous performances, this is one team I’m expecting to score high and be competitive for the top three. They’re krumpers, which is vastly different from their mentors Derek and Julianne, who think the “architecture” of their routine is there, but they need to connect it into something more cohesive.

10:24pm — Excellent moves throughout and a standing ovation from the judges. I think they told a more cohesive story in their “It”-inspired Duels performance, though. Jennifer loved how they brought the ideas of their routine to life. Derek thinks they take the audience on a “journey,” but he thinks the concept got in the way of the dancing at the beginning of the routine. Ne-Yo appreciated both the “storytelling” and “innovative” choreography. But like Derek he would have liked more dancing and less sitting at the beginning.

Scores: Ne-Yo (92), Jennifer (91), Derek (90) — Average: 91

10:26pm — They’re in second place, with Michael Dameski still in first. That sounds about right to me. That knocks out Alisa and Joseph. But even a 91 might not survive the rest of the performances, especially since Karen y Ricardo are still coming up. They scored 99.7 in the Qualifiers and 98.3 in the Duels. If they’re simply consistent and don’t make any mistakes they’ll probably take a spot in the top three.

MarInspired

10:31pm — I love these two for the intimacy they unapologetically display between two men, but I’m not sure their style of dancing will hold up at this stage of the competition. And they got a relatively low score in the Duels. Fingers crossed.

10:34pm — I thought this was a huge step up from their Duels performance. Great storytelling, and far more dynamic movements than in the last round. Jennifer admired their “clumsy” movements, and she didn’t quite understand the story they were telling. But it was Derek’s favorite performance from them, and I think I agree. Ne-Yo appreciates how unique they are as dancers in the competition. They might barely make the top three for now, but don’t think they’ll stay there.

Scores: Ne-Yo (88), Jennifer (87), Derek (88) — Average: 87.7

10:36pm — The judges loved them and gave them a standing ovation on their way out. It just wasn’t quite enough to hold up against some of these other high-flying acts. I thought they deserved at least one score around 90, but the numbers still seemed fair to me. I’m glad, though, that Michael Dameski is now guaranteed a spot in the Division Final since he’s still in first place with only two performances left.

Ashley and Zack

10:41pm — Ashley and Zack actually tour with Derek and Julianne, so they have a personal connection. However, Derek is worried they haven’t stood out enough among the other dancers. This routine is inspired by the death of Zack’s close friend, but Derek thinks they need to infuse more of that emotions into their performance. Derek and Julianne are already crying in the rehearsals, which is probably a good sign.

10:45pm — Gorgeous flowing movements from these two, and they get bonus points for bringing something genuinely emotional to another grossly overused song: “Fix You” by Coldplay. Derek thought it was “absolutely stunning” with a “beautiful story,” and it was a “massive breakthrough” for the couple. Ne-Yo thought it was the epitome of real emotion. Jennifer loved the strength and struggle that was evident in their movements. I think they’re a pretty safe bet for the next round.

Scores: Ne-Yo (90), Jennifer (91), Derek (93) — Average: 91.3

10:47pm — Not only are they in the top three, they also reached second place by one-third of a point! That’s crucial, because Karen y Ricardo are up next, and you don’t want to be up against them for a spot in the next round. BDash and Konkrete are on the bubble now, so I think they’re in serious trouble unless Ricardo flat-out drops Karen.

Karen y Ricardo

10:51pm — The highest scoring team in this competition is up next. This routine wwill be inspired by the 14 years they have spent dancing with each other. But this is a slower routine than they’ve shown us in previous rounds. Changing the winning formula at this point is a risk. “Slower dances reveal more,” Derek warns. Julianne thinks there are some transitions between lifts that seem “clunky.” So if they’re not perfect in this routine, it’ll show. But they’re been pretty perfect in the previous rounds, so I’m not worried about them.

10:55pm — It started slow, and I don’t think it was quite as showstopping as their previous performances, and by that I mean it’ll probably get a 97 instead of a 98. Jennifer thought the song was amazing and well interpreted. Derek thought they were hotter than the fire behind them. Ne-Yo enjoyed the slower pace because it showed that they’re not just about the big tricks. Sorry, BDash and Konkrete, you’re probably done for.

Scores: Ne-Yo (100), Jennifer (99), Derek (98) — Average: 99

10:58pm — Okay, so they scored as high as ever. I thought it was a little over-scored, but honestly not by much. I’m disappointed for BDash and Konkrete, who were visibly heartbroken by the result, but I can’t argue with the judges’ decisions here.

RESULTS:

The following competitors are moving on to the Division Finals:

Junior Team Division
The Fabulous Sisters
The Lab
The Rock Company

Upper Division
Ashley and Zack
Michael Dameski
Karen y Ricardo

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