“World of Dance” season two is coming down to the wire. Each division is being winnowed down to the best of the best of the best, and tonight the Cut round concluded by deciding the three best acts in the Junior Division and Upper Team Division who will move on to the Division Finals. So who got the judges’ seal of approval? Find out below in our live blog with all the minute-by-minute developments as they happen.
The eight Junior Division competitors vying for three spots in their Division Final were Avery and Marcus, Charity and Andres, Jaxon Willard, Jonas and Ruby, Josh and Taylor, Madison Brown, Sean and Kaycee, and Victoria Caban.
The eight Upper Team Division groups fighting in the Cut were The Bradas, Connection, Desi Hoppers, Embodiment, Lock ‘N LOL Crew, Poreotics, The Ruggeds and S-Rank.
So what could we expect from these battles? For starters, we might see the fiercest competition of the night take place in the Junior Division. Everyone in that field scored higher than 90 during their Duels performances except for contemporary soloist Madison Brown. Compare that to only three of the eight Upper Team Division acts who scored over 90 in the Duels.
And if the first week of the Cut was any indication, you’d need scores in the 90s to advance to the Division Finals. The third-place Upper Division act (Ashley and Zack) scored 91.3, while the third-place Junior Team Division act (The Rock Company) scored 93.7. So you don’t just need to bring your A-game to the Cut, you need to bring your A+ game. Follow along below to find out who did just that starting at 9:00pm (all times listed are Eastern).
9:00pm — The final Cut round gets underway! Paula Abdul and Mel B are joining tonight as special guest mentors. There are eight acts in these two divisions, so I expect this show to even more fast-paced than last week.
9:03pm — The Indian hip-hop crew is up first, which is exciting because they’re one of the most exciting, unique teams on the show. The mentoring session a bit awkward due to the language barrier. Paula tried her best to give them advice about their positions and exeuction, and Desi Hoppers now understand the meaning of the word “straddle.”
9:06pm — Some really exciting, innovative shapes in this routine that are just a delight to look at. Tons of visual and physical innovation, though there were a few minutes in-between that felt less compelling. Jennifer Lopez “loves” watching their blend of traditional and modern, athleticism and fun. Derek Hough loved the “crystal clear” pictures and “impactful” ending. Ne-Yo thought they synchronicity was at “another level.” I hope this team makes it through. I want to see more from them.
Scores: Ne-Yo (92), Jennifer (90), Derek (90) — Average: 90.7
9:09pm — That’s a good way to start the round, a good benchmark to set, but it’s not unbeatable. All six teams who advanced to the Divisional Finals last week scored higher than that. So now it’s just a waiting game.
9:13pm — The contemporary troupe is up next. Paula thinks they need to be more together at certain moments. “This needs work, guys,” she tells them. She’s whipping them into shape, helping them clean up their routine. Paula has been a rock-solid mentor so far. Her expertise is in dance, so she gives much better critiques than she did to the singers on “American Idol.”
9:17pm — Good work by these fellas, and Paul got them nice and synchronized, though I’ll admit it never wowed me. Derek thought it was “beautiful and strong.” Ne-Yo appreciates their blend of “elegance and masculinity,” but there was too much movement at times. Jennifer thinks they need more “quiet moments” and to emphasize more story. I still cringe a bit at how much emphasis Ne-Yo puts on masculinity. If it were just elegant he would
Scores: Ne-Yo (89), Jennifer (91), Derek (93) — Average: 91
9:19pm — I think Jennifer and especially Derek over-scored them. It was a solid routine, but I thought Desi Hoppers brought more to the table. I’ll be disappointed if Embodiment end up keeping Desi Hoppers out of the Divisional Final.
Lock ‘n LOL Crew
9:19pm — This is one of those abbreviated segments that signals that they’re probably not going to survive. They only got an 86.7, and it was hard to really see what they had to offer from the short clips of their performance.
9:20pm — Another abrupt segment. They averaged 89, knocking out Lock ‘n LOL Crew immediately, but I don’t think The Bradas will last long either. Again, we didn’t get a strong sense of their dance quality from seeing their routine edited down.
9:25pm — Another hip-hop crew, the Mexican team inspired by violence of their hometown. Paula is “very impressed” by their rehearsal, but host and fellow mentor Jenna Dewan wants them to get down deeper into it, with more body rolls. It looked like Connection wanted to see Jenna do more body rolls too.
9:28pm — They made great use of the beat. They were fast and sharp and well synchronized. This might have been the strongest routine for me so far. Jennifer thought it was an “amazing routine … I was glued to you guys … Probably the best routine you’ve ever done.” Derek appreciated how they danced “as one.” Ne-Yo apologized for underestimating them in the past; he thought it was the “cleanest” he’s ever seen them.
Scores: Ne-Yo (94), Jennifer (91), Derek (89) — Average: 91.3
9:30pm — I’m glad they’re on top of the leaderboard at the moment despite Derek scoring them as low as he did — what gives tonight, Derek? But I’m not happy Desi Hoppers are so close to elimination right now. No bueno.
9:35pm — Derek had issues with how slow their Duels performance was to build, so they’re going all out on this routine, even using their music to poke fun at Derek calling them a “jelly doughnut” — it took a while to get to the good stuff in the middle.
9:37pm — This segment is a little shorter (no mentoring session shown with Paula and Jenna), but I thought this routine was dynamite and got standing ovations from Derek and Ne-Yo. It was incredibly innovative, and I give them extra credit for turning Vanessa Carlton‘s “A Thousand Miles” into a hip-hop jam. That was outstanding. Ne-Yo thought it was “humorous, but earned the humor … That was damn near perfect.” Jennifer thought it was one of their better routines too. Not good news for Desi Hoppers, but I think this team definitely deserves to make it to the next round.
Scores: Ne-Yo (93), Jennifer (91), Derek (91) — Average: 91.7
9:40pm — They’re on top of the leaderboard and are guaranteed a spot in the Divisional Final. Very well deserved, but the scores still felt a bit conservative and clustered unusually close together. Desi Hoppers were just knocked out in fourth place, but they scored only one point lower than Poreotics just scored. That’s a difference of one point per judge between first and fourth.
9:44pm — The Dutch b-boys have scored under 85 in both of the first two rounds. Paula and Jenna think their timing is off during their rehearsal and worry it’ll look like “mistakes” to the judges. Let’s see if they can redeem themselves.
9:46pm — Standing ovation from Derek. “Holy cow,” he said. “That was unbelievable.” He thought it was perfectly well executed and they “defied physics.” Ne-Yo thought the choreography was “intelligent” and they played to their strengths. Jennifer thought it was their “first, full complete routine.” I agree with the judges. I was duly impressed. They pulled off maneuvers I haven’t seen and probably won’t see again. They’re worthy of a spot in the finals after that.
Scores: Ne-Yo (92), Jennifer (92), Derek (94) — Average: 92.7
9:49pm — Embodiment are out, and The Ruggeds are now at the top of the leaderboard. I can’t argue with that result, though I personally liked Poreotics a bit better — seriously, Vanessa Carlton hip-hop, how do you top that? And once again the margins between all the teams have been so small.
9:53pm — The hip-hop crew is closing out the Upper Team Division. They had the highest score in their division during the Duels, so there are high expectations on them. Paula is impressed with their rehearsal, but thinks they can push it even a little bit further.
9:56pm — Great use of Kendrick Lamar’s “DNA,” they hit every beat perfectly. It took a while to wow me, but then they rewound the choreography during one moment that genuinely knocked me out. I don’t think they’re a lock with that performance, though. Derek thought it was an “awesome” performance and a “musicality clinic.” Ne-Yo thinks they’re the “cleanest team in the competition.” I have a feeling they’re going to advance after those comments.
Scores: Ne-Yo (91), Jennifer (93), Derek (93) — Average: 92.3
9:59pm — They made it through, finishing second in the division. They advance to the Divisional Final with Poreotics and The Ruggeds, but again the margins were so microscopic. There were just two points between first place and sixth place in that round.
Josh and Taylor
10:00pm — The hip-hop duo are kicking off the Junior Division Cut, which I think is going to be the most competitive Cut since these acts have all scored so high in previous rounds. But mentor Ne-Yo is a little confused by the story, and fellow mentor Mel B wants them to express more of the story through the choreography rather than relying on their props and staging. They scored an impressive 92.3 during the Duels, but that was only the sixth best in this division going into the Cut.
10:06pm — A solid routine, and the judges are smiling, but I’m not sure it’s going to be competitive for the top three in this division. Jennifer liked it, and thought the use of the LEDs took it to “another level … but is it good enough for the Cut?” Ne-Yo thought it was “quality work,” but he liked it more when they were closer together as opposed to separated. Derek thought there were a lot of cool moments, but felt the style of choreography didn’t quite match the music in places.
Scores: Ne-Yo (86), Jennifer (83), Derek (97) — Average: 85.3
10:10pm — I wasn’t expecting a tremendous score for this routine, but these numbers were even lower than I thought they would be. Not a chance that score holds up, unless the rest of the contestants contract food poisoning before they get to the stage.
10:10pm — I’m sad to see Victoria is getting one of the abbreviated segments. I love the little flamenco dynamo. She got an 85.3 after tripping up on her skirt a little bit, so there’s no way she’s making it through either.
Jonas and Ruby
10:15pm — They’re upping the difficulty and think their work is going to pay off. Ne-Yo and Mel B are impressed by how well they use the entire stage, but Ne-Yo wants them to be as expressive with their faces as they are with their bodies.
10:16pm — For a ballroom duo, their costumes for this routine are unexpectedly futuristic. I’ve their ballroom-Latin-techno fusion on this routine. It was a marriage of styles that impressed me almost as much as the Poreotics doing Vanessa Carlton. Derek loved the “attack” of their routine and all the different styles they incorporated. Ne-Yo loved the “Matrix”-style concept. Jennifer said, “You smashed that routine” and pointed out the “innovative” moment Jonas used his leg to spin Ruby.
Scores: Ne-Yo (85), Jennifer (89), Derek (91) — Average: 88.3
10:20pm — These scores are shockingly low for this division so far. Even Jenna Dewan seems shocked by that. What gives? I can’t believe after three Junior Division performances the highest score is 88.3.
10:21pm — Madison is performing a routine about how poorly America treats black people. That’s some intense subject matter, but she got a pretty short segment and only an 85.7 score. I wish I could have seen that performance in full. The snippets looked dynamite. But four routines down and still not a single 90 average. The door is wide open for the last four performers.
Sean and Kaycee
10:26pm — NBC already previewed this duet online. Based on what I saw there and the scores so far, I’d say they’re going to shoot to first place with this routine. Ne-Yo and Mel B love the storytelling when they show it to their mentors during rehearsals. But they urge Sean and Kaycee to make sure they embody the love story they’re trying to tell on stage.
10:30pm — Watching it again, it’s the emotionality of this routine is what separates it from the others so far. And they got a standing ovation from Derek. “You move me,” said Jennifer, who is stunned again that Sean choreographed the routine himself. Derek thinks they’re masters of “action and reaction” and they showed great awareness of each other. Ne-Yo thought it was a joy to watch.
Scores: Ne-Yo (88), Jennifer (94), Victoria (94) — Average: 92
10:32pm — They’re on top of the leaderboard despite that low-ball score from Ne-Yo. Victoria, Josh and Taylor are gone.
Avery and Marcus
10:33pm — The balletic Eva Igo-slayers are up next, but Ne-Yo thinks they lack musicality during their rehearsal. But this is another shortened segment, so that doesn’t bode well. But I really love the interesting way they interpret ballet.
10:35pm — Ne-Yo thought it was “too beautiful” for the song choice. Jennifer thought it was slow build.
Scores: Ne-Yo (85), Jennifer (86), Derek (85) — Average: 85.3
10:36pm — And just like that, they’re out. Sean and Kaycee are now guaranteed to make the Divisional Final. And with Jaxon Willard and Charity and Andres closing out the division, I’d be surprised if they don’t make it to the finals too.
Charity and Andres
10:40pm — The perfect-scoring sensations are up next. No pressure. And they’ve been struggling during their rehearsals to live up to the pressure, but Ne-Yo and Mel B are blown away by what they see. But even a disappointing performance from these two could score well enough to make the Divisional Final at this point.
10:43pm — What impressed me the most about these two is that with all the difficulty they throw into their routines, they flow beautifully from movement to movement, making it look effortless. And this romantic performance was so drastically different from their intense Duels performance, so their versatility is on point too Jennifer thought they were “exceptional” and that they should believe in themselves. Ne-Yo thought it was amazing. Derek “didn’t like this performance … I loved it!” They’re definitely going to the finals.
Scores: Ne-Yo (89), Jennifer (93), Derek (96) — Average: 92.7
10:46pm — They’re on top of the leaderboard, so their position is secure. But Ne-Yo, who hurt you? An 89 for that performance?
10:50pm — The contemporary soloist is closing out the show, but he also seems to be suffering a crisis of confidence, so he comes to his mentoring session with Ne-Yo and Mel B somewhat unprepared. Ne-Yo and Mel B are astonished by the way that he moves, but they urge him not to shrink from the spotlight and his abilities. He needs to embrace his talent. “Do you love the skin you’re in?” asks Mel, and he’s still somewhat timid. I think Eva Igo had a similar experience having to come out of her shell in season one — just sayin’.
10:54pm — I kind of expected that mentoring session to be a misdirect leading up to a showstopping performance, and I was right. He attacked that routine ferociously, his movements were complex and difficult, but smooth and expressive. He’s got this. He might even get the highest score in the division. Ne-Yo says, “Everything you do is effortless.” He even rushes on stage to give Jaxon a hug. Nobody else got a Ne-Yo hug tonight, so maybe he won’t be as stingy with his score this time. Derek believes the intention and expression in all of his movements, and he went “from a boy to a man” with this performance.
Scores: Ne-Yo (90), (90), (92) — Average: 90.7
10:58pm — Well, he made the finals, but not by much. Stingy scores all around for this division. I’m not sure why the judges were the kids, but I think the right three teams went through, though I’m sad Jonas and Ruby’s “Ballroom Matrix” number didn’t make the cut.
Upper Team Division
Charity and Andres
Sean and Kaycee