305 (‘World of Dance’ Duels): Derek Hough admired their ‘fiery paso doble battle mode,’ but did they win that battle? [WATCH]

The Junior Division group 305 knows what it’s like to dance for their lives. Their performance during the Qualifiers round wasn’t quite enough to convince the judges, so they returned for the Callbacks and earned their spot in the Duels. And the 10-member Latin dance troupe certainly had numbers on their side in their head-to-head face-off against nine-year-old jazz soloist Savannah Manzel. Did they prove themselves yet again? Watch their performance above.

They danced to Demi Lovato‘s “Confident,” and that was certainly an apt musical choice for their passionate, aggressive routine. “Well done,” said Derek Hough, which is high praise in and of itself since he himself is a Latin ballroom dance specialist. “I see you guys stepping it up,” he added, and he praised their “fiery paso doble battle mode.” Jennifer Lopez thought it was a “good routine. I love the presentation. I loved some of the formations.”

But while Lopez expressed admiration for the team and their studio, whose dancers performed with her in the Super Bowl, she admitted, “It could’ve been a little bit better.” Guest judge Stephen “Twitch” Boss also pointed out, “It feels like you have work to do, but that fire, that’s what’s going to take you through.” And Ne-Yo told them, “There’s absolute, undeniable potential in you guys.” That sounded to me like a bad sign: by the time you get to the Duels, if the judges are still seeing your potential and not you reaching that potential, they’re probably not going to pick you to win.

And that’s what happened. Even though they were a team going up against a soloist, the judges chose the lone Manzel as the winner of their duel. But there’s still a chance for 305. Twitch will choose two losing acts to perform again in a redemption round, so if he picks them and they raise their game once more, they may yet fight their way to the Semi-Finals just like they fought through the Callbacks to get to the Duels.

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