“World of Dance” season two ended on Wednesday night, September 12, with four acts competing in the World Final for the $1 million grand prize. So who prevailed: Upper Division winner Michael Dameski, Upper Team Division winners S-Rank, Junior Division champs Charity and Andres, or Junior Team Division victors The Lab? Find out below in our live blog with all the minute-by-minute developments as they happen.
Australian contemporary dancer Michael Dameski was the only soloist who made this year’s World Final, and he did it by upsetting Latin cabaret sensations Karen y Ricardo during the Divisional Final. But even before “World of Dance” he had experience winning dance competitions. He won his country’s version of “So You Think You Can Dance” in 2014.
The Lab have also had competitive experience, but they came into this season of “World of Dance” looking for redemption. They appeared last summer in the first season of the show, but they were eliminated during the Cut round. And there’s no doubt they were in it to win it. They received progressively higher scores in the first four rounds of the competition, culminating in a remarkable 99.8 during the Divisional Final.
The only contestants in the history of “World of Dance” who ever scored higher than that were Charity and Andres, who earned an unprecedented perfect score of 100 during the Duels. But they weren’t able to achieve numbers that high during the Cut or the Divisional Final, though of course they scored high enough to make it to the World Final. This was their last chance to make that magic happen again.
S-Rank entered the World Final as underdogs since their highest score out of the four preceding rounds was 94.3. That’s an outstanding number under most circumstances, but all of their World Final rivals achieved better than that at least once over the course of the season, so S-Rank had better have saved the best for last.
Follow along with our live recap below starting at 9:00pm to find out what happened (all times listed are Eastern).
9:00pm — Time for the “World of Dance” finale! Given how high these contestants have scored at their best throughout the season, I could see a night full of scores 95 points and higher. At least, I hope so.
9:02pm — But the night starts with brief dance numbers featuring judges Jennifer Lopez, Derek Hough and Ne-Yo, as well as host Jenna Dewan. Really creative, guys. Really clean. I’d give them an 87, I guess.
9:04pm — Each of the four acts will perform twice tonight. The first performance will be to a song chosen by the performer’s mentor. And the second will be to a song chosen by the contestants themselves.
Charity and Andres — Mentor’s Choice: “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers (Derek Hough)
9:05pm — Definitely one of my favorite acts of the season. I think the judges have underscored them a bit in the last two rounds, especially during the Divisional Final when Charity performed with a broken toe. They’re being mentored by Derek. He thinks they need to “tap back into their earlier performances where they were surprising us.” I don’t know, Derek, the fact that Charity is still performing with a broken toe is still surprising me in new a fantastic ways.
9:09pm — Already I’d give Andres bonus points for the bow tie. Bow ties are cool.
9:14pm — Smooth, athletic, impressive, good storytelling from the duo. I don’t think it was quite as electric as their best work, but a well deserved standing ovation from Derek, who thinks they’re “brilliant” with their partner work and that Charity’s pirouettes were especially impressive. Ne-Yo still marveling at how Charity is performing on a broken toe, and actually did the spins on her broken toe. He thought they were “damn near perfection.” But Lopez thought they seemed a little bit nervous during their routine, so their next performance needs to fly.”
Scores: Ne-Yo (92), Jennifer (96), Derek (95) — Average: 94.3
9:16pm — I’m actually surprised these scores were so high, since I think the judges low-balled them a bit in the last two rounds.
S-Rank — Mentor’s Choice: “Headband” by B.o.B (Jennifer Lopez)
9:17pm — “They haven’t seen anything yet,” says S-Rank’s team leader Melvin Timtim. They should hope not. They need routines tonight that are by far better than the ones they’ve delivered before because their scores from previous rounds aren’t going to cut it. And Jennifer lets them know they need to “dig deeper” if they want to win. “We want to prove we’re the best in the world. We want to prove that we deserve that money,” says Melvin. Time to bring it!
9:21pm — I loved the orchestral concept of this performance, with Timtim orchestrating his teammates like musical instruments. The movements themselves weren’t as innovative as I’ve seen before, but it was a fantastically staged piece. Jennifer thought it “worked perfectly” and was one of their “best routines of the year.” Derek thought they were “incredible.” Ne-Yo called it “a million dollar performance.”
Scores: Ne-Yo (91), Jennifer (95), Derek (93) — Average: 93
9:24pm — Jennifer is bringing the huge scores early. Ne-Yo and Derek have been a little more conservative so far, and I’d say on these first two performances my feelings were more in line with them. Overall, though, I agree with ranking Charity and Andres slightly ahead after these first two performances.
Michael Dameski — Mentor’s Choice: “Dive” by Ed Sheeran (Jenna Dewan)
9:29pm — “I didn’t think I had it in me,” says Dameski about making it this far. Jenna has given him a sentimental ballad, and she encourages him to wow the judges with his emotional presence even more than with big tricks. And Dameski insists, “This is the most vulnerable side that I think people will see of me.”
9:32pm — Great musicality, perfectly timing the choreographic and storytelling beats to the music. He definitely emphasized the storytelling in this one, so there weren’t as many of the big high-flying tricks. I did miss those a bit, but he gave the judges the “goosies.” Derek’s got them on his legs too apparently. “You 100% deserve to be here,” says Ne-Yo. Derek thinks he’s been an “incredible competitor” and “stunning.” Ne-Yo think it was graceful and elegant, but still strong. Yet again, Ne-Yo seems hung up on the masculinity of male contemporary dancers. Come on, man! You’re not scoring on a scale of “no fems.”
Scores: Ne-Yo (95), Jennifer (97), Derek (95) — Average: 95.7
9:40pm — Highest score of the night so far. Again, a little higher than I was expecting, especially from Jennifer, but they’re not saving much for the next round. I’m still waiting to see a performance that fully brings the house down, and it might just come from The Lab.
The Lab — Mentor’s Choice: “Work It” by Missy Elliott (Ne-Yo)
9:41pm — “It’s amazing to know our hard work is paying off,” says one of the team members. They’re definitely feeling some pressure after getting perfect 100s from the three main judges during the Divisional Final, but they think they can live up to it, and I think Ne-Yo has picked the best song for their style. It’s such a good match for their personality. Kudos to Ne-Yo on that pick.
9:44pm — Great use of the music, great timing and synchronicity. I especially loved how well coordinated their subtle movements. They went “beyond” what Ne-Yo was expecting, and he thinks it was another “million dollar performance.” Derek appreciates how they play to each dancer’s strengths, and he calls them “the whole package.” Jennifer thought they had “some of the cleanest formations of the year. ” I don’t know if it’s a 100s kind of performance, but they’ll definitely be top two
Scores: Ne-Yo (97), Jennifer (97), Derek (97) — Average: 97
9:47pm — Big score, and the highest score from the first round. But I don’t know, none of the four first-round performances screamed “million dollars” to me. I feel like they all left something in the tank, which makes sense of course since they all have to do another routine tonight, but they all need to go all out … except for maybe Charity, who I think is going about as far out with a broken toe as anyone could humaly ask for.
Keone and Mari, with Kinjaz
9:52pm — “Tonight we’re here for a special performance,” says Keone, who will be taking the stage tonight with Kinjaz. Keone and Mari made the Divisional Final in season one, and so did Kinjaz, but alas, they were both eliminated, so this is actually the first time they’ve got to perform at the World Final, though without the pressure of having to wait for any judges’ scores.
9:55pm — It’s interesting to compare those season one performers with the acts that made the World Final this year. Terrific performers who have found success after “World of Dance” even though the didn’t win the title, but I think they would have had to up their game if they were up against these finalists. I hope all of this year’s final four enjoy the same kinda of opportunities after this competition is over.
S-Rank’s Choice: “It’s Going Down” by Yung Joc
10:02pm — Jennifer still advises the team to push themselves further. They’re performing first since they’re in last place going into round two, but they’re only four points out of the lead. And Timtim is especially moved that his father is here to watch them perform since he wasn’t always supportive of his choice to pursue a dance career.
10:04pm — Another excellent performance from this crew, but I think their biggest problem is having to be compared to The Lab, who are always a little bit more innovative. I dug the biker theme, but I think they needed more to really grab that million-dollar prize. Jennifer was moved to tears by their commitment. She thought it was a great performance. Then Timtim thanks his dad and almost makes Derek cry too. Derek thought they “finished strong.” And Ne-Yo tells Timtim’s father how proud he should be, and he gives them another standing ovation. But I’m not sure the judges sound enthusiastic to the point of scores that would challenge the leaders.
Scores: Ne-Yo (94), Jennifer (94), Derek (94) — Average: 94
Final combined average: 93.5
10:07pm — Another fantastic score, but they’re going to need the other competitors to disappoint in order for that score to hold up. I’m not optimistic about their chances.
Charity and Andres’s Choice: “Legendary” by Welshly Arms
10:12pm — They’re performing to this song to contrast against their humble roots. They’re from Utah, and they’ve come all the way to the World Final. Derek encourages them to believe in themselves “Winning a million dollars will change the rest of our lives,” says Charity. At the very least she can finally get that toe fixed.
10:15pm — Perfect musical choice for them, their most intense performance since the Duels. Not their biggest moves, but their technique was still on point, and the ferocity with which they intensity of the music and choreography — dynamite. They got a standing ovation from the judges. Derek was blown away by the moment Charity even managed to throw Andres across the stage. Ne-Yo praised their “intensity.” Jennifer thought it started off a little slow but then built its momentum. I’m not sure they’ll keep the lead, but I’m pretty sure Charity and Andres are going to knock out S-Rank.
Scores: Ne-Yo (96), Jennifer (93), Derek (94) — Average: 94.3
Final combined average: 94.3
10:19pm — Great showing by Charity and Andres, though this time it was Jennifer who held back a bit with her score. Though like S-Rank, I have a feeling this score won’t hold up when Michael Dameski and The Lab come out.
10:24pm — “We’re here as a guest, but there’s still some competition inside us,” said last year’s winners. They’re just here to have fun tonight, moving away from some of the darker hip-hop they won for last season. “Finesse” by Bruno Mars and Cardi B is definitely a good choice for that.
10:26pm — A slick, straightforward performance, not one that would be competitive this season probably, but they’ve already got their million bucks and they danced with Beyonce at Coachella. They’ve got nothing to prove. But they did have one especially outstanding moment timed to a record scratch that shows why they won last year.
Michael Dameski’s Choice: “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child
10:32pm — Now that is an unexpected song choice for Dameski, and I think I love it. He says it’s more of a remixed version, and he choice it because “I made the decision not to give up.” Jenna encourages him to “own” the feeling that he has succeeded in this competition and could claim the grand prize.
10:34pm — The song may say “I’m a survivor,” but the costume says, “I am Mad Max.” And I am here for it. Wow, from playing human Pachinko with himself on a big peg board on stage, to diving off of the set, to bringing more martial arts moves with a staff, that was my favorite performance of the night so far. Ne-Yo thought it was an “amazing display.” Jennifer feels “privileged” to have watched him really demonstrate how much he wants it and how far he has pushed himself. Derek tells him, “Everybody’s going to know Michael Dameski after this.” I think he’s about to knock Charity and Andres out of the competition. I’m a little sad about that, but Michael has definitely earned it.
Scores: Ne-Yo (98), Jennifer (96), Derek (95) — Average: 96.3
Final combined average: 96
10:43pm — That’s a wrap for Charity and Andres. “You’re young. This is just the beginning,” Derek tells them. I hope we see them again next year, though I think they’ll be 18 by then so they’ll have to compete in the Upper Division.
The Lab’s Choice: “Waiting on the World to Change” by John Mayer
10:45pm — Ne-Yo is surprised by the song choice, so he thinks the key to making this risk pay off is tapping into the emotions they’ll need to sell it to the judges. Since they scored 97 in the first round, they’ll need to average better than 95 on this dance to beat Michael Dameski. I’m really excited by a chance of pace from this troupe though. Versatility is exactly what has made Michael Dameski so impressive all season.
10:48pm — This was probably one of my favorite performances from this group. At first it felt a little busy with a lot of prop work and ideas crammed in about soldiers coming home and park benches and tablets. But when they all broke out into these beautifully synchronized moves it paid off beautifully. Jennifer is in tears. The Lab are in tears. Derek is glassy-eyed. Stick a fork in it, it’s done. “You guys are warriors of light,” says Derek. Ne-Yo says, “I’m better for watching you,” and he wants his own children to learn from them. Yeah, this might be a perfect score.
10:56pm — “I’ve watched you grow into an outstanding performer,” says Jennifer to Michael about his growth from superb technique to superb storytelling. And she tells them both, “You guys took it to another level compared to last season.
The Lab Scores: Ne-Yo (100), Jennifer (96), Derek (98) — Average: 98
Final combined average: 97.5
The Lab wins “World of Dance” season two!
10:58pm — I love that brief moment after the scores come in and they’re all standing there in suspense about how the average came out as if they all can’t do basic math. I am a little surprised that there weren’t more perfect scores for that last routine. I thought those scores were pretty spot-on, but they’ve handed out 100s before for performances that got them in their feelings like that.
11:00pm — I personally had a soft spot for Michael Dameski overall, who I thought had the best combination of technique and storytelling, plus the widest range of emotional tones from performance to performance, but I can’t really complain about this choice. The Lab were consistently excellent and could teach most of the adults this season a thing or two.