“World of Dance” isn’t known for its heated arguments. The judges aren’t always in lockstep, but they’re usually on the same page about the fundamentals. But in the third week of Qualifiers Jennifer Lopez raised a concern that made Derek Hough protest. Their debate was over the very last performance of the Qualifiers round by female dance troupe Radiance and the storytelling in their routine — or lack thereof. Watch their performance above, and scroll down to vote in our poll to let us know if you agree with Lopez or Hough in this fight over fancy footwork.
Lopez appreciated Radiance for their athleticism and skill, but she didn’t feel an emotional connection to certain aspects of their routine. After the dancers told fellow judge Ne-Yo that there was no specific story behind their choreography Lopez pointed that out as their crucial shortcoming. “You’ve got to come up here and tell us a story,” she insisted. “We’ve got to feel something. This audience has to connect to you.” But Hough stood up for the performers. He doesn’t think every dance routine needs a specific storyline, and he gave the young women credit for not making one up just to please the judges.
Lopez fired back that it wasn’t just about what she was looking for in a performance, but what the audience needed in order to connect to a routine. That argument struck me as dubious because the audience sounded fully engaged with the performance, and even if they weren’t they don’t get a vote. What’s more, there are plenty of performances that get unanimous raves from the judges that clearly don’t have any emotional arc.
Despite an exchange between the judges that was more contentious than usual, they actually weren’t that divided at all when it came to their scores. Ne-Yo and Lopez both gave Radiance 87 points, while Hough rated them a little higher with 90 points, giving them an average of 88.0. That was safely over the 85-point threshold needed to advance to the Duels, but if they don’t want to be eliminated in that round they’re going to have to work on not only their choreography, but apparently their screenwriting too.