‘World of Dance’ recap: The Cut 1 chopped the Upper Division and Junior Team Division in half [UPDATING LIVE BLOG]

The “World of Dance” competitors made it through both the Qualifiers and the Duels, so it’s time for the third round of competition, the Cut, which is aptly named because it chops the remaining field in half: six acts go in, but only three come out in each division. So who survived when the Upper Division and Junior Team Division went through this unforgiving dance gauntlet? Find out below in our live blog with all the minute-by-minute developments as they happen.

The Upper Division comprises acts aged 18 and over with up to four members, and the contestants reached this stage were popping legend Poppin John, the hip-hop/Latin fusion duo All Ready, the same-sex salsa pair Jonathan y Jorge, the tap-dancing D’Angelo Brothers, and contemporary acts Briar Nolet and Derion and Madison.

This field is especially wide open since everyone who made it this far knows what it takes to beat the odds: these were the six lowest-scoring dancers from the Qualifiers, but they still beat the front-runners during the Duels. And they had another leg up during the Cut: they were mentored by judge Derek Hough.

The Junior Team Division consists of acts under the age of 18 with more than four members, and the six acts hoping to survive the Cut included three hip-hop crews: VPeepz, Elektro Crew and Get Down District. They were up against two contemporary teams: JDC and The Crazy 8’s. And rounding out the field were the Dancetown Divas, who hoped their Latin ballroom style would stand out from the rest of the pack. These young competitors were mentored by former “World of Dance” host Jenna Dewan.

Find out what happened below starting at 8:00pm (times listed are Eastern).


Jonathan y Jorge

8:03pm — The Upper Division is up first in the cut, and Derek is mentoring this Latin dance duo. Derek thinks their tricks are spectacular, but they need more attack in their side-by-side salsa moments. I like these two, and I like anyone on this show who can add variety to what is a usually such a hip-hop and contemporary-heavy competition.

8:07pm — Another solid routine with fantastic, innovative tricks, but I thought parts of it lacked cleanliness and ease. They still have a few rough edges to smooth out.

JUDGES — Jennifer had a smile on her face from ear to ear, and they’re a dynamic pair, but there are places where it needs more refinement. But Derek thought they maintained their energy throughout the routine. Ne-Yo loves the partnering and the tricks, but the side-by-side movements are rocky.

SCORES — Ne-Yo (91), Jennifer (90), Derek (91) — Average: 90.7

8:10pm — That’s a really strong score for a division that has been so closely matched throughout the season so far.  I actually thought they’d end up somewhere in the high 80s.

Derion and Madison

8:13pm — This contemporary duo is up next. It has been an emotional few weeks for them. They have decided to leave the touring company they were with, so they’re really going all in with “World of Dance” and leaving the safety and security of their regular jobs. When Derek sees their work in progress, he thinks their routine needs more moments that take your breath away.

8:15pm — These two have been really great at athleticism this season, but this performance added an emotional intensity to that. This was about using the athleticism to convey narratives and themes. And it gets a standing ovation from all three judges.

JUDGES — Derek appreciated the “rawness,” “realness” and “sensational” thoughtfulness of the choreography. Jennifer praised Madison for the sharpness of her movements; it felt “visceral” and “passionate” to her. Ne-Yo loved the “effortlessness” of the routine.

SCORES — Ne-Yo (94), Jennifer (95), Derek (95) — Average: 94.7

8:19pm — We haven’t been seeing scores at that level from the Upper Division this season, so I have a feeling those will hold up for a spot in the Divisional Final.

All Ready

8:25pm — All Ready are all ready to go next. They’re using props, which is always risky. They’ll incorporate skirts that turn into capes, and Derek thinks they have the potential to surprise us once again with an innovative number.

8:27pm — Before they even start their dance, the red and silver of those skirt-capes is eye-popping. They make really great use of those capes, and the way they blend hip-hop with Latin dancing is unlike anything we’ve really seen from anyone else in the competition. I’m not sure it matches Derion and Madison, though.

JUDGES — Ne-Yo loved the energy of the piece, but he wanted there to be more attack and more snap in the movements. But Jennifer disagrees with Ne-Yo; she thinks the routine was “super strong” for them, and they get extra points for their crystal makeup. Derek appreciates how “innovative” and “creative” they are in blending dance styles, but the music got bigger than the actual dancing at points.

SCORES — Ne-Yo (92), Jennifer (92), Derek (92) — Average: 92.0

8:30pm — After three performances, Jonathan y Jorge are in the danger zone. I don’t think they’re going to hold up.

Briar Nolet

8:35pm — NBC previewed this performance already, and as far as I’m concerned it’s better than the three we’ve seen so far, so she needs to make it into the Divisional Final. But Derek advises her to change her ending and show her vulnerability because that’s what Jennifer will be looking for. Again, she brought that in spades.

8:37pm — By the way, the lyric “I’ve been bending backwards ’til I’m broke” is absolutely perfect for Nolet, except she never breaks. Standing ovation from all three judges, and well-deserved. It looks like Jennifer is crying.

JUDGES — Jennifer thought Briar brought tears to her eyes just by looking at her, it was “such a dynamic and powerful routine.” Derek thought she came back stronger than ever since the Duels and her redemption round. Ne-Yo thinks her emotional presence has improved greatly: “You might be the total package.”

SCORES — Ne-Yo (93), Jennifer (96), Derek (97) — Average: 95.3

8:41pm — Highest score of the night so far, which means she’s guaranteed a spot in the Divisional Final. I think this is the first time they’ve given Bolet the scores she has deserved, though that 93 from Ne-Yo had me worried for a second. Alas, that means Jonathan y Jorge are eliminated, but the judges encouraged them to come back next year. I’d love to see them come back too since they still have so much room for growth.

D’Angelo Brothers

8:48pm — I have high hopes for these two since I’d love to see tap in the Divisional Final. They’re the first tappers ever to make the Cut and one of them broke his hand to do it. And it sounds like this is going to be an uncharacteristically emotional number for tap with a concept of sibling rivalry. Derek wants to help them clarify the emotion and the story they’re telling.

8:50pm — A unique concept for a tap routine, and dynamite execution from both of them, but I think the dreamy, ethereal music clashed with their choreography and concept. I’m not sure it’s going to be quite enough, though Derek gave them a standing ovation.

JUDGES — Jennifer thinks they might be the best tap act they’ve ever had on the show. Derek appreciated the crystal-clear concept. Ne-Yo loved the technical difficult, but it was “a little messy” and “over-complicated.” Jennifer got her patented goosies, so she felt it was a strong routine for them.

SCORES — Ne-Yo (90), Jennifer (92), Derek (93) — Average: 91.7

8:54pm — They were eliminated by one-third of a point. Ne-Yo was the score that killed them, but this time I actually thought his score was right on the money. And their elimination means that Derion and Madison are now guaranteed a spot in the Divisional Final. There’s only one performance left in this division, Poppin John, and All Ready are on the bubble.

Poppin John

8:58pm — The veteran is closing the division. I’m excited for his performance, but I’m a little worried for him because his popping style tends to be smaller and subtler than most other dance styles. He’s using a heart balloon as his prop, and he’s trying to use his style to tell a more emotional story about what it would be like to lose everything. It’s a tribute to his wife, who made sacrifices to support his dance career. I have a good feeling about this.

9:01pm — The routine starts with subtlety, but the way he’s moving his body around the balloon makes it look like the balloon is moving independently of him, and that’s pretty extraordinary. It really highlights the difficulty and precision of his style. That was one of my favorite performances of the night, and he gets a standing O from all three judges. I think he’s going to make it through.

JUDGES — Ne-Yo was impressed by how much emotion he put into a dance style that’s not known for it: “You have an absolute realistic shot at the million dollars.” Jennifer thought it was “beautiful” and “sick” and “worked amazingly.” Derek admired his “authentic” vulnerability.

SCORES — Ne-Yo (95), Jennifer (95), Derek (95) — Average: 95.0

9:06pm — A well deserved score and a well deserved spot in the Divisional Final. Not bad for a dancer who only barely made it out of the Qualifiers a few weeks ago. Alas, that means All Ready is out. These Upper Division contestants really stepped up their game. I think the judges made the right calls.


Moving on to the Divisional Final:
— Briar Nolet — 95.3
— Poppin John — 95.0
— Derion and Madison — 94.7

— Jonathan y Jorge
— D’Angelo Brothers
— All Ready



9:12pm — The hip-hop crew is the first up for this division, and they’re being mentored by Jenna Dewan, which makes me wonder why she’s not hosting, since mentoring was where she at her most prominent. Jenna thinks they need to make some of their moves more dramatic and have greater impact.

9:14pm — That was remarkably clean and precisely synchronized routine. And there are moments when it moves slowly enough to really appreciate the level of precision. Great formations and pictures. And a standing ovation from the entire judging panel. Probably one of the better hip-hop team routines of the season.

JUDGES — Jennifer explains that the emotions and tears they’re feeling come from how in sync they were: they “smashed” it. Ne-Yo was wowed by the fact that they delivered such impact without any huge tricks. Derek felt there was “clarity and thoughtfulness” in the choreography.

SCORES — Ne-Yo (100), Jennifer (98), Derek (98) — Average: 98.7

9:18pm — Call me crazy, but I think that’s going to be enough to get them into the Divisional Final. And Ne-Yo wants everything else tonight to be just that “surgically precise.”

Elektro Crew

9:23pm — This hip-hop crew is in the unenviable position of having to follow VPeepz. They’re using a basketball as their prop to represent their theme of bouncing back, as they have done throughout the season. But their performance is getting a bit of an abrupt segment, which probably isn’t a great sign.

JUDGES — Ne-Yo loved the theme, but at times they were frantic and lost synchronicity. Jennifer thinks they need more control too. We didn’t even hear what Derek had to say.

SCORES — Ne-Yo (91), Jennifer (90), Derek (89) — Average: 90.0

9:26pm — It really feels like the show burned off that performance, so I’d say they’re pretty much goners.


9:26pm — Jenna thinks they really need to nail the emotion of their song, but they too are getting a pretty edited-down segment. It’s disappointing when the show gives some performances short shrift. It’s unfair because you can clearly see who the cannon fodder is.

JUDGES — Derek thought it was “amazing.” Jennifer felt there was a disconnect between the choreography and the story. Ne-Yo felt like he missed something since there was so much going on.

SCORES — Ne-Yo (92), Jennifer (89), Derek (93) — Average: 91.3

9:29pm — I guess we can pretty much assume Elektro Crew and JDC will be knocked out after these next three performances. How come the show cut down two Junior Team Division performances so much, but not any of the Upper Division routines. Surely the show could be edited to fit all the routines in without giving some of them less attention than others.

The Crazy 8’s

9:33pm — I have a good feeling this group is going to move forward since they have gotten tons of attention all season (and their athletic ability is insane). This routine will be inspired by the personal growth of Naia, their member with selective mutism. Jenna thinks the ending of their routine is “disjointed,” so she recommends that they come together at the end of the number.

9:37pm — Another strong routine from this group, with a little surprising hip-hop flavor, and Jennifer gives them a standing ovation. But it doesn’t quite rise to the level of VPeepz tonight, I don’t think.

JUDGES — Derek thinks their dancing is “exceptional” and there was more choreography and musicality, but their transitions still need work. Jennifer agrees that they need to fill those in-between movements more, but Naia carried the piece and deserves congratulations. Ne-Yo raves about their flexibility and control: “fantastic from start to finish.”

SCORES — Ne-Yo (91), Jennifer (93), Derek (93) — Average: 92.3

9:40pm — Those numbers are fair. Unsurprisingly, they’ve knocked out Elektro Crew, but they’re not safe yet. They’re in second place, but there are two routines left, so they could still be knocked out.

Get Down District

9:45pm — Jenna thinks this waacking team needs more clarity in their movements. They’ve never gotten higher than 90s in the scores, and they’re getting a cut-down segment, so I guess they’re going to be out too.

JUDGES — Derek thinks it’s too elementary. Ne-Yo also doesn’t think it’s competitive enough

SCORES — Ne-Yo (89), Jennifer (89), Derek (88) — Average: 88.7

9:46pm — The shortest segment of the night so far. We hardly even saw their routine. Really disappointing, especially since we can be pretty sure now that Dancetown Divas will take down JDC due to how short their segment was.

Dancetown Divas

9:48pm — They’re adding voguing to their routine to help them stand out. Jenna recommends they cut down on the smiles and improve their attitude game to match their voguing. Last performance of the night, and given how JDC was pretty much an afterthought in their editing, this group will probably move ahead to the Divisional Final.

9:54pm — Right out of the gate, a really great formation with their arms creating great shapes. An excellent number overall, though not an huge showstopper.

JUDGES — Ne-Yo thanks them for looking the part and putting on a show, and he was thrilled by how well they danced and flipped in heels, but the synchronicity was off at times. Jennifer thought Madonna’s “Vogue” was a perfect song choice and they incorporated a lot of great different elements; she thinks it was their best routine so far. Derek also thought it was a “great job.”

SCORES — Ne-Yo (93), Jennifer (92), Derek (95) — Average: 93.3

9:58pm — Surprising no one, Dancetown Divas knock out JDC. Maybe next week, “World of Dance” editors, don’t give away the ending by drastically editing down the acts that end up eliminated. Be fair to all the acts performing, especially since they have all made it this far.


Moving on to the Divisional Final:
— VPeepz — 98.7
— Dancetown Divas — 93.3
— The Crazy 8’s — 92.3

— Elektro Crew
— Get Down District

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