“World of Dance” concluded the Cut round on Sunday night, April 21, with performances from the Upper Team Division and Junior Division that chopped those fields in half — from six contestants to three. So who advanced to the Divisional Final, and who was eliminated? Find out below in our live blog with all the minute-by-minute updates as they happen.
The Upper Team Division consists of dance acts aged 18 and over with more than four members. The teams who made it this far include four hip-hop crews: The Kings, The Heima, Exiles and Fuego Dance Crew. The other two are contemporary teams: Unity LA and Radiance. But this division might ultimately turn out to be just a race for second place since The Kings from India received indomitable scores in the Qualifiers and in the Duels, so can anyone hope to catch them? They have set a high bar, not only for their competitors but for themselves, so they could suffer in the scores if the judges feel like they’ve already seen the best of what the Mumbai dynamos have to offer.
The Junior Division features dance acts under 18 with up to four members. They included contemporary soloists Lauren Yakima and Kayla Mak, contemporary duo Ellie and Ava and contemporary team Moving 4ward. They’re joined by hip-hop duos Julian and Charlize and Funkanometry. In this field everyone was chasing Yakima, whose Qualifiers and Duels performances earned the two highest scores recorded in this division so far (95.7 and 96.0, respectively). But like the Kings, she had the unenviable task of trying to outdo herself again and again. If she doesn’t, the judges may start to feel as though they’ve been there, done that.
So who moved on to the Divisional Final? And who do you think will win the whole season? find out below starting at 8:00pm (times listed are Eastern).
8:03pm — Jennifer Lopez is mentoring the kids, and first up are a team I thought were over-scored in the Duels. I’m skeptical that these whimsical hip-hop duo can pull off the level of choreography they need at this level of competition. Jennifer likes the routine they’re working on, but she thinks it needs to be more dynamic; they need to show us something we haven’t seen before. Agreed, J. Lo!
8:06pm — They start their routine by surprising the judges by appearing behind them instead of on stage in front of them. Another charming routine from this super-likable duo, but they still don’t really have moves advanced enough for the level of competition I don’t think
JUDGES — Derek thinks they always “deliver on entertainment,” but the costumes and the idea behind the routine were better than the actual choreography. Jennifer thought it “came together” and was “innovative.” And they’re becoming a favorite of Ne-Yo’s: they “earn the funny” because they dance well in addition to the funny content.
SCORES — Ne-Yo (93), Jennifer (93), Derek (88) — Average: 91.3
8:10pm — Those guys are so charming, but those 93s were strange to me given the level of the choreography. Derek really nailed it on the head with his critique and with his score. Jennifer and Ne-Yo seemed to be grading on a curve.
8:13pm — Lauren coming out to bring the pain to the rest of the division — show ’em how it’s done. Jennifer wanted her to bring more emotion to her Duels routine, so Lauren’s Cut dance will be inspired by all the love and support she has received from her mother. But Jennifer still thinks she need to dig even deeper to bring her routine to the next level: “She’s acting it, she’s not really doing it,” says Jennifer. She makes Lauren cry, but in a good way … hopefully. Use it, girl!
8:16pm — Lauren’s choreography is a lot simpler this time to really emphasize the emotional themes. I don’t know, it didn’t quite land with me as much as I was hoping for. Solid, but the movements were less dynamic, and the emotions didn’t quite come through as strongly as they could have.
JUDGES — Derek admired her “maturity and quality of movement,” but there were a couple of wobbly tturns. Jennifer was moved. And Ne-Yo thought the emotions were very real as well. Yeah, I noticed those wobbles too.
SCORES — Ne-Yo (91), Jennifer (91), Derek (93) — Average: 91.7
8:19pm — That’s Lauren’s lowest score yet, so she’s definitely vulnerable. Thanks to Derek she’s ahead of Funkanometry, which is where she belongs. The fact Ne-Yo and Jennifer thought Funkanometry were two points better than Lauren is kind of bonkers.
8:24pm — They say this is their last hurrah dancing together, and they’re going a little darker for this routine, but Jennifer thinks their routine is a little one-note. And it looks like this is a shorter segment, so they may be goners. An abruptly edited segment is usually damning.
JUDGES — Derek thought it lost steam midway through, and Jennifer was somewhat disappointed too .
SCORES — Ne-Yo (90), Jennifer (91), Derek (90) — Average: 90.3
8:26pm — Yep, they’re in third place after three routines. I’d expect them to be eliminated after the next performance.
Julian and Charlize
8:27pm — Let’s see how much screentime these two get. Jennifer thinks they set high expectations after their Duels performance, and the theme for this dance is Julian trying to impress Charlize and her playing hard to get. Jennifer thinks there’s a good idea, and the cat-and-mouse game is the “oldest story of time,” so they really need to invest in their story arc and make it come through.
8:33pm — The best choreography of the night so far, though that’s a low bar to clear. The dancing was stellar too. Not mind-blowing necessarily, but clean, crisp and effective.
JUDGES — Derek thought it was “great,” but he felt like he saw the choreography more than he saw the dancing, “if that makes sense” — no, I’m not entirely sure it does, Derek. “I really like this routine … and that’s it,” says Derek. So underwhelmed. Jennifer disagrees and thinks they “dancing it amazingly” throughout. Ne-Yo thought there was too much beat manipulation, but it was “danced exquisitely.”
SCORES — Ne-Yo (94), Jennifer (94), Derek (91) — Average: 93.0
8:37pm — No surprise there, Julian and Charlize are now guaranteed a spot in the Divisional Final since they’re on top of the leaderboard with only two dances to go. And Moving 4ward are officially out. I think their scores were a little generous, but it seems like scores lower than 90s are going to be rare at this point in the competition. I wish the judges would be a little more conservative with their scores in general because those rare high-90s and 100s would mean more.
8:43pm — If Kayla delivers tonight, they’d better bring her the scores she deserves. I want the judges to be more conservative in general, but I think they lowballed her during the Duels. Her performance tonight will be more emotional. It’s about liberation from her insecurities. Jennifer thinks her lines are gorgeous, but she doesn’t have the strength. Jennifer wants to see both the soft beauty and the hard-hitting “animal.”
8:45pm — I think Jennifer was right that she needed a little more dramatic intensity. She didn’t hit quite as hard as the song she was dancing to (“Take Me to Church”). But it was still the best danced performance of the night so far. Gorgeous lines and positions.
JUDGES — Derek thought it proved that ballet can truly compete on “World of Dance” and her grace takes his breath away. Jennifer thought she had the delicacy of a rose petal but also showed great strength. Ne-Yo appreciated the “edge” that sets her apart.
SCORES — Ne-Yo (93), Jennifer (94), Derek (94) — Average: 93.7
8:49pm — Kayla moves to the top of the leaderboard, and well deserved. Funkanometry are out, but Ne-Yo’s score indicates he thought Funkanometry’s performance was just as good as Kayla’s. I’m gonna have to disagree with him there. The big surprise, though, is that with one routine left Lauren Yakima is actually on the bubble at risk of elimination.
Ellie and Ava
8:55pm — Last up are the contemporary sisters. They showed off their technical side in the first two rounds of the competition, and this time they want to be more “hard-hitting” with a routine about staking their claim and not giving up. It’s inspired by their grandfather, who fought in Vietnam. But Jennifer “didn’t get it at all” when watching their work in progress. They’re great dancers, but Jennifer thinks they need to learn how to be storytellers, which is a recurring theme tonight. Her critiques prompted them to re-work their entire routine.
8:57pm — They definitely succeeded in going hard. Really convincing intensity that matches the music, and they match each other too. Lauren should be afraid because I think that might knock her out.
JUDGES — Jennifer thought it was “badass” and “the tone of it was perfect,” and it was worth it for them to redo their entire routine. Ne-Yo appreciated how they were in character from beginning to end. Sorry, Lauren, might be game over.
SCORES — Ne-Yo (95), Jennifer (95), Derek (96) — Average: 95.3
9:02pm — Great scores for an excellent routine, and a huge upset as Lauren is eliminated from the show. She had the highest score in the division during the Qualifiers and the Duels, and those are still actually the two highest scoring routines from the Junior Division thus far, but now she’s out. However, I can’t really fault the judges for their decision. I didn’t think Lauren brought it as much in this round as she did in previous rounds.
Moving on to the Divisional Final:
— Ellie and Ava (95.3)
— Kayla Mak (93.7)
— Julian and Charlize (93.0)
— Lauren Yakima (91.7)
— Funkanometry (91.3)
— Moving 4ward (90.3)
UPPER TEAM DIVISION
9:07pm — Ne-Yo is mentoring this division, and honestly I wonder if anyone is going to be able to keep The Kings, The Heima and Unity LA from going 1-2-3 tonight. They seem so drastically far ahead. But then, so did Lauren Yakima. The routine they show Ne-Yo is a “C+” at the moment, and that literally won’t “Cut” it.
9:10pm — I had low expectations, but that was actually a pretty rock-solid routine. Some really great, clever windmill moves, well coordinated and synchronized.
JUDGES — Ne-Yo thinks they definitely found their confidence. Jennifer thought some of the spacing was off, but overall they nailed the routine. Derek felt the dancing in-between the big moves dropped off, but it was otherwise a great performance.
SCORES — Ne-Yo (90), Jennifer (90), Derek (91) — Average: 90.3
9:13pm — Decent scores, well deserved. But they’re going to need to hope other teams drastically under-perform because otherwise that number is unlikely to hold up.
9:18pm — The front-runners are up next. Will they put up another monster score, or will they have an off night like Lauren in the Junior Division? Their performance tonight blends robotics, Bollywood and dubstep. And Ne-Yo is so excited about the routine they’re working on that he throws a pillow at them, but they need to streamline it to better focus their big tricks.
9:20pm — Yep, they’re going straight to the Divisional Final. That might have actually been subtle compared to their previous routines given how high they usually fly, and it still owned the dance floor. They formed a giant robot, had tons of humor, tons of choreographic variety. Amazing work, and Derek gives a standing ovation from on top of the table.
JUDGES — Derek thought it took too long to get going, but when it did it blew them away. Jennifer thought it was “insane,” and it looks and feels different from anything else in the competition.
SCORES — Ne-Yo (96), Jennifer (99), Derek (98) — Average: 97.7
9:24pm — There’s almost no chance three teams will outscore them, so you can pretty much take it to the bank that they’re going to advance to the next round. And what keeps them fresh round after round is that they’re capable of so much musical and choreographic variety within their style that they never feel like they’re repeating themselves.
9:29pm — Another one of the front-runner teams. They’ve gotten huge scores in their first two rounds. Tonight’s performance is inspired by the passage of time and how dancers have a ticking clock on their careers given how much stress they put on their bodies at such a young age. Ne-Yo thinks their prop work with their canes got messy, but the rest of their work is surgically precise.
9:31pm — A strong performance, but I think they’ve been better. It felt like they were focused too much on their props, and it limited their performance a bit. I think the door might be open for another team to surprise.
JUDGES — Derek thought they did a “phenomenal job.” But Jennifer felt it might have been a little too abstract.
SCORES — Ne-Yo (93), Jennifer (93), Derek (94) — Average: 93.3
Fuego Dance Crew
9:33pm — Ne-Yo thinks they need to play up their Latin sex appeal, and they say they want to direct all of it at Jennifer. I’m not sure how I feel about these guys.
9:34pm — A solid performance with a really gorgeous formation in the middle, but overall I don’t think it’ll be enough to get them into the top three.
JUDGES — Ne-Yo thought they went back to their Latin roots with the song, “Gasolina” by Pitbull. Derek thinks they’re improved, but the routine itself needed extra gasoline and wasn’t strong enough for this stage of the competition. Jennifer feels they have improved as well, but it’s “a little bit elementary,” and she’s seen those steps before.
SCORES — Ne-Yo (90), Jennifer (89), Derek (89) — Average: 89.3
9:37pm — They’re out of the competition, and I think that’s the right call. This division is going to be the toughest Cut out of any of the four divisions. If you’re not out-of-this-world good, it might not be enough.
9:41pm — Their “God is a Woman” performance during the Duels was dynamite. If they can recapture that magic, they could move ahead of Unity LA, and that’s where they’ll need to be in order to reach the Divisional Final. They’re doing an emotional piece this round inspired by America’s epidemic of gun violence, but Ne-Yo thinks they need to balance their emotion with physical control.
9:44pm — A lovely performance and emotionally resonant, but I think it’s going to be close. It might not be quite enough to overtake Unity LA.
JUDGES — Derek thought they did a “great job” with their narrative and it moved him “tremendously,” but from a competitive standpoint it wasn’t always up to snuff. Ne-Yo agrees that the emotion at times exceeded the dance quality. Jennifer praises them for their message of addressing gun violence, but the piece itself “could have been stronger” and didn’t quite convey the message they intended to convey. Yep, they’re probably done.
SCORES — Ne-Yo (94), Jennifer (92), Derek (92) — Average: 92.7
9:47pm — Those scores were surprisingly high given the judges’ criticisms. They’re currently in the top three (knocking out Exiles), but I don’t think they can survive The Heima, who are closing the show up next. NBC already previewed The Heima’s performance online, and I think it’s a pretty safe bet for first or second place in the division tonight.
9:51pm — The unusual Korean b-boys are up. Ne-Yo admired their unique “contemporary b-boy” style. They focused on their artistry in the first two rounds, but they want tonight’s performance to show who they really are. Ne-Yo warns them against getting rid of their masked personas too hastily.
9:54pm — Gorgeous, unique movements, and a standing cheer from Ne-Yo and Derek. Jennifer politely applauds in her seat.
JUDGES — Jennifer praises them for knowing who they are as artists: they create beautiful pictures. Derek thought the speed of their spins were “ridiculous.” Ne-Yo felt it was risky, but worth it, and brought a personality to the routine that they hadn’t seen yet.
SCORES — Ne-Yo (100), Jennifer (95), Derek (98) — Average: 97.7
9:58pm — Okay, that’s actually a little higher than I thought it would be — Ne-Yo and his 100s. What’s interesting is that they tied The Kings at the top of the leaderboard, which means the Upper Team Division will probably be the most exciting Divisional Final next week. I think The Kings will take it, but it’ll be close between them and The Heima.
Moving on to the Divisional Final:
— The Heima (97.7)
— The Kings (97.7)
— Unity LA (93.3)
— Radiance (92.7)
— Exiles (90.3)
— Fuego Dance Crew (89.3)
10:00pm — That round went as I thought it would with The Heima, The Kings and Unity LA taking the three slots in the Divisional Final. I hoped someone would put pressure on them, but no one quite did.
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