Contemporary solo dancers have had a hard time getting the time of day from “World of Dance” judges this season, with contestants like Derek Piquette and Aydin Eyikan getting eliminated and Briar Nolet barely squeaking through thanks to her redemption dance. It seems like the judges have bundled up all that support and given it to Junior Division soloist Lauren Yakima, though it’s not hard to see why. The teenage dynamo is reminiscent of another judges’ fave from the first two seasons of the competition: Eva Igo. Will Yakima make it as far as her predecessor? Watch her Duels performance above, and see what the judges had to say about it below.
Ne-Yo: “Ladies and gentlemen, ‘World of Dance’ season three, this is what it’s about, this right here … You dance with this confidence like you know exactly how good you are. That last pose was like, ‘Yep, I did that.’ And then, by the way, limbo champion when you went all the way back and just left it there for a second … So solid you could stop on a dime. Every move has purpose. It’s just raw, ridiculous, ungodly talent from start to finish.”
Derek Hough: “I pulled so many muscles in my body watching that. That [split] was the sickest burn of the night, just like, ‘And what?’ … That takes incredible skill, incredible control … This is our third season, and we’ve seen flexibility, we’ve seen leg extensions. We’ve seen that, but I love that you bring something different … You also have the charisma. You have that attack that you need, and even though this is a contemporary routine, usually it’s emotional, but this was a dueling contemporary routine.”
Jennifer Lopez: “Lauren, your power and your star quality if undeniable. The minute you hit the stage you have 100% total command … For contemporary it was actually like a battle dance as opposed to a contemporary dance, and that’s okay. But the music was so sparse, so it wasn’t a lot of dancing, and at one point I felt like I was getting too many jumps in a row … I need something emotional to hold onto in this. And never forget to connect emotionally with the audience in every move that you make. But other than that, great job.”
Despite Lopez’s reservations about Yakima’s choreography and emotional content, she gave the performance a score of 95 out of 100. Meanwhile, Hough gave her a 96 and Ne-Yo gave her a 97, resulting an average of 96.0. That was even higher than her Qualifiers score of 95.7, and it means that Yakima has now posted the two highest scores in the Junior Division. Suffice it to say that it was enough to advance to the next round Can anyone catch her, or will she cruise to the world final? Vote below to let us know who you thought gave the best performance during the third week of the Duels.