The “World of Dance” judges also served as mentors during The Cut, which concluded on Sunday night, April 21. But I wonder if Jennifer Lopez‘s counseling might have significantly affected the outcome in the Junior Division. Her advice to former front-runner Lauren Yakima might have hurt the young contemporary dancer more than it helped her. Watch Yakima’s routine above.
Yakima got the highest score in the Junior Division during the Qualifiers (95.7), and then she got the highest score again during the Duels (96.0). But Lopez thought her Duels performance needed more of an emotional hook to go along with her intense athletics. She likes routines that tell a story, especially from contemporary dancers, and she wanted Yakima to open up and let herself be more vulnerable on stage.
The resulting routine, which was dedicated to Yakima’s supportive mother, brought the emotions, and Lopez thought it was “moving,” while Derek Hough raved about her “maturity and quality of movement beyond her years,” but the judges also noted a few wobbly spins that were uncharacteristic of her usually rock-solid technique. And I noticed that her choreography was less complex than in previous rounds, possibly so she could emphasize the emotional themes in her routine. The result was her lowest score yet (91.7), which ultimately wasn’t enough to keep her in the competition.
But in defense of Lopez, the judge has given similar advice to other contemporary dancers like Briar Nolet, and it worked out great for her. It also worked for Kayla Mak, the contemporary-ballet soloist who grabbed a spot in the Junior Divisional Final away from Yakima. So should Yakima have ignored Lopez’z advice, or was her routine just not up to snuff?
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