There have been upsets and surprises throughout the “World of Dance” Duels this season, but this battle round came to an end on April 7 with the Upper Team Division dancers challenging each other to single-elimination combat. So who won, who lost and who was redeemed? Find out below in our live blog with all the minute-by-minute developments as they happen.
The 10 teams competing for a spot in the next round, the Cut, in order of their Qualifiers scores were The Kings (97.7), Unity LA (95.3), Fuego Dance Crew (93.7), The Heima (93.7), Main Guys (89.7), Exiles (88.0), Radiance (88.0), Siudy Flamenco (86.7), Motiv Crew (85.7) and Style and Grace (85.0).
The Kings, a hip-hop crew from Mumbai, India, gave the highest scoring performance from any division during the Qualifiers, so they might be the front-runners to win the entire competition, not just their division. And getting such big numbers earned them another advantage in the Duels since the highest scoring qualifying teams got to pick their opponents to Duel.
The Duels are fairly simple: get a higher score than your opponent and you advance to the next round. Get the lower score and you’re eliminated from the competition. But that wasn’t the end for everyone. The two losing teams with the highest scores got to battle each other at the end of the night in a redemption round for one last wild card slot in the Cut. So when all was said and done six teams moved forward while the other four got their walking papers. Follow along below starting at 8:00pm to find out (times listed are Eastern).
Fuego Dance Crew vs. Siudy Flamenco
8:04pm — The battle of the Latin American teams and a battle of the sexes. We didn’t see much of Siudy Flamenco in the Qualifiers, so I’m looking forward to seeing what they have to offer. Also, I’d like to see flamenco win this Duel to see more stylistic diversity in the Cut.
8:06pm — Fuego Dance crew is up first with their intricate hip-hop. A few really cool maneuvers, but I thought it lagged in places.
JUDGES — Derek didn’t think the song lacked energy, but Ne-Yo thought they made up for it with their choreography. They’re cocky, Ne-Yo thinks they earn that cockiness. Jennifer didn’t think they had tricks as big as other teams, but they make up for it with their cleanliness.
8:10pm — Siudy Flamenco follows with a solid routine. Great, fierce flamenco, but I’m not sure how competitive the rest of that choreography is going to be.
JUDGES — Derek appreciates that there was more flamenco and better footwork than in the previous round, but he wants to see more classical flamenco wardrobe. Jennifer’s favorite parts were the flamenco, but the rest of the choreography was “too basic.”
Suidy Flamenco Scores: Ne-Yo (90) Jennifer (89), Derek (90) — Average: 89.7
Fuego Dance Crew Scores: Ne-Yo (93), Jennifer (91), Derek (89) — Average: 91.0
8:17pm — Derek warns them that they need to take their performance up a notch for the next round. They need to get the judges out of their seats.
Unity LA vs. Style and Grace
8:18pm — Unity LA picked the lowest scoring team in the hopes of guaranteeing their spot in the Cut. Unity LA came in with 10 routines prepared that they can pick and choose from, while Style and Grace are looking for improvement after a slight mishap in the Qualifiers, but they’re not really doing any tricks.
8:21pm — Unity LA is up first. They’re the contemporary team with Zack and Ashley, who competed last season. They came out with an intense routine, not taking any chances in those round. They got Ne-Yo and Derek and out their seats. A good sign.
JUDGES — Ne-Yo thought it was “frantic, but in the best way possible” because it had so much energy, but it was focused, and they had great synchronicity. Jennifer thought it was an “amazing routine” from a “rare group” where everybody is amazing, but the music didn’t quite do it for her. Derek thinks they’re “a force to be reckoned with,” and their transitions have purpose and intention; they have “undeniable quality.” But he thought one lift looked labored.
8:29pm — Style and Grace are next. Unity LA left the door a crack open with a couple of those critiques, but it’ll still be tough to beat that. A fierce routine with a lot of personality, but the choreography didn’t seem that advanced, and they only got polite applause from the judges. Bad sign.
JUDGES — Ne-Yo doesn’t think it’s competitive compared to Unity LA, but Jennifer disagrees in the sense that their intensity made them stand out, but their choreography didn’t include anything they hadn’t seen before. And Derek thought they stayed in formation for too long, but they did improve on their Qualifiers routine. Yep, they’re toast.
Unity LA Scores: Ne-Yo (96) Jennifer (97), Derek (98) — Average: 97.0
Style and Grace Scores: Ne-Yo (88), Jennifer (88), Derek (88) — Average: 88.0
8:33pm — Wow, that was one of the worst shellackings we’ve seen in the Duels. I don’t think Style and Grace are going to quite make it to the redemption dance with that score, but I’m actually kind of surprised by how sky-high those Unity LA scores were. They were great, but that didn’t feel like an upper-90s routine for me.
The Heima vs. Exiles
8:40pm — “We’re going to stomp you out,” says the Korean team the Heima as they challenge hip-hop crew Exiles. The Exiles think they have tricks the Heima don’t have, but from the Heima showed in the first round that they can take their b-boy style and add a twist to it unlike anything else we’ve seen before, and I think that will give them an advantage. The Heima come out in costumes and Jennifer can’t figure out if they’re supposed to be astronauts or beekeepers.
8:42pm — Exiles are up first, and they deliver a solid routine including one great moment where they saw one of their members in half. I dug it, but I’m not sure that will hold up as a whole.
JUDGES — Ne-Yo was worried for Exiles, but they stepped up. Jennifer appreciated their champion mentality: “I loved that fight.” And she thought every single one of them “stepped up to the challenge.” Derek felt it was much better than their Qualifiers performance, and he loved the character and personality of their performance style.
8:50pm — The Heima are up next, and I think they already won this Duel with that opening head spin that looked like a perpetual motion device. That was weird, funky, cool, and I think it’s going to be a landslide victory. Derek and Ne-Yo gave standing ovations again, and also they look confused. In a good way maybe.
JUDGES — Ne-Yo was “pleasantly confused,” and he thought it was original and unusual — like “contemporary breakers.” He thought it was “almost perfect.” Jennifer thinks they’re “breaking the mold … it’s crazy to me to watch.” she was marveling at their movements, especially the one “bucking bronco” move. Derek says they’re “creating and inventing moves that don’t even exist.” Ne-Yo comments that it’s going to be tighter than he expected. Dude, no it’s not.
The Heima Scores: Ne-Yo (99) Jennifer (95), Derek (96) — Average: 96.7
Exiles Scores: Ne-Yo (95), Jennifer (93), Derek (91) — Average: 93.0
9:00pm — Not a surprising result at all, but I was surprised by how high those Exiles scores were. That 95 from Ne-Yo felt too generous to me. That officially knocks out Style and Grace, who no longer qualify for redemption. Siudy Flamenco are on the bubble.
Main Guys vs. Radiance
9:03pm — NBC previewed this Duel. Main Guys are “going hard” for this round, including a front flip that might be “too risky.” From the preview, I think they were right, since the flip had a wobbly landing.
9:08pm — Radiance was up first, and they got Jennifer on her feet with their powerful, confident “God is a Woman” routine, which is great for them since in the Qualifiers she criticized them for lacking a story.
JUDGES — Jennifer doesn’t know where to start because she had so many feelings and head-to-toe goosies. The tricks blew her away. Ne-Yo praises the “woman power” of the routine. Derek thought it was “powerful beast contemporary,” and he loved the strength that they embodied. I thought they had a slight edge after I watched them in the preview, but I think they might just have this sewn up.
9:15pm — Main Guys are up next, and the dog leash moment at the end is by far the best moment in the routine, but no standing O’s from the judges.
JUDGES — Derek thought they took an older DMX song and they made it feel new and got the crowd going. Ne-Yo thought the performance was like a class he would really want to take. Jennifer thought they started off slow and they weren’t as clean as they were in their first performance, but she loved how they used their leash prop.
Radiance Scores: Ne-Yo (93) Jennifer (95), Derek (93) — Average: 93.7
Main Guys Scores: Ne-Yo (90), Jennifer (88), Derek (90) — Average: 89.3
9:19pm — The first relative upset of the night with the lower scoring team from the Qualifiers winning their Duel, and Main Guys are officially eliminated since their score is too low to qualify. Though this was a default Duel, so neither team actually challenged the other.
The Kings vs. Motiv Crew
9:26pm — This will probably be the steepest climb for a challenge. If the Kings are anywhere near as good as their Qualifiers performance, I’m not sure how Motiv Crew beats them. And the show has been teasing one performance that gets 100 from Ne-Yo and 99s from Jennifer and Derek. I think there’s a much better chance that will be the Kings — no offense to Motiv Crew.
9:28pm — Motiv Crew is up first. That’s good because I’d hate to have to follow the Kings. It’s a solid routine with some nice formations and clever burns and choreography. Good for them, but I don’t think it holds up.
JUDGES — Jennifer thought it was “amazing,” “super clean,” “in the pocket.” They came alive. Derek calls the performance “electric” and he even liked the hairography of their lead dancer. Ne-Yo felt they rose to the challenge given their competition, but he needed more space to breathe between the cool moves, but he felt it was “amazing.” Lots of good praise, but nothing overwhelming. I don’t think anyone got goosies from this one.
9:33pm — I wished the show hadn’t teased so hard a performance that blows the judges away and gets a nearly perfect show. Now that we’re in the last Duel with a front-runner team like the Kings, we know they’re going to be that performance, which takes the surprise and suspense out of it.
9:36pm — To their credit, the Kings definitely delivered. That was some Cirque du Soleil level madness. Some of those flips looks like they were as high as skyscrapers. Some of those moves looked fresh and new. The routine had humor in addition to great tricks and movement. Derek lies on the table in shock. All three judges stand up, stunned.
JUDGES — Jennifer thought the routine was “so insane,” “a five course meal … I wish we could watch it one more time.” Derek agreed about the “insane” acrobatics, and he praised their unique cultural integration. Ne-Yo was worried it would be all tricks and no dancing, but those fears were allayed. Poor Motiv Crew.
Motiv Crew Scores: Ne-Yo (90) Jennifer (91), Derek (89) — Average: 90.0
The Kings Scores: Ne-Yo (100), Jennifer (99), Derek (99) — Average: 99.3
9:46pm — The win and those scores were a foregone conclusion, so that was an anticlimax. the more interesting result is that Motiv Crew edges out Siudy Flamenco for a spot in the redemption round. I’m kind of disappointed by that since I wanted to see more flamenco and the show already has plenty of hip-hop.
REDEMPTION: Exiles vs. Motiv Crew
9:48pm — One hip-hop team verse another hip-hop team in this redemption duel, but I think this will be a bit anticlimactic too since we’ve seen hip-hop from The Heima and The Kings that is in another league. Whichever team wins this might just end up going home in the Cut. But I hope they break out and surprise me.
9:53pm — “Both of you deserve to go through,” Jennifer tells the teams backstage before the redemption round begins. Motiv Crew is up first, and they bring more emotional intensity to their routine, which gives their moves a little more fire. Exiles have more choreographic complexity, though, bigger tricks, and a little more polish. I think Exiles have got this.
9:56pm — Ne-Yo thinks both teams should be proud, and Jennifer wants to see the losing team back on the show next year, whoever it is. And the team that wins redemption by majority vote is … Exiles! Ne-Yo tells them to dance like their lives depend on it.
Upper Team Division acts advancing to the Cut:
The Kings — 99.3
Unity LA — 97.0
The Heima — 96.7
Radiance — 93.7
Fuego Dance Crew — 91.0
Exiles — Redemption
Eliminated from the competition:
— Main Guys
— Motiv Crew
— Siudy Flamenco
— Style and Grace
10:03pm — With those scores, it’s going to take a lot for anyone to break that top three in the Cut. The Kings, Unity LA and The Heima feels like almost a foregone conclusion, though we’ve been surprised by underdogs before.