Chibi Unity (‘World of Dance’ Duels) tried something completely different, but did the risk pay off or backfire? [WATCH]

And now for something completely different! Japanese fusion dance group Chibi Unity impressed the judges during the Qualifiers with an expressive, contemporary-infused performance to “Some Nights” by Fun. That performance earned them a spot in the Junior Division Duels, so what better way to make another strong impression than to … completely change their style for a straight hip-hop routine to Lil Wayne‘s “Uproar”? Did that risky change pay off for them, or did it backfire? Watch their routine above.

Changing up your dance style can be a power move that shows the judges just how versatile you are. But it can also confuse the judges if all of a sudden they’re not sure what your artistic identity is. Just look at Oxygen, who blew away the judges with their formations during Qualifiers but then mostly abandoned those formations during the Upper Division Duels. They lost their duel, but luckily got a chance to come back in the redemption round, which they won by bringing in more of the elements the judges liked from them in the first place.

Chibi Unity had a similar outcome. Jennifer Lopez thought they “stepped it up,” and Derek Hough appreciated their cleanliness and synchronicity. Meanwhile, Ne-Yo noticed the stark difference between their first and second routines. “That was unexpected,” he said, but not knowing what to expect from a dance act is “always a good thing.” It was guest judge Stephen “Twitch” Boss who expressed concern, though. He enjoyed their performance, but when Chibi Unity admitted that contemporary is more their strength, Twitch warned them, “You want to make sure you step forward with your best foot.”

They were competing against contemporary trio MDC 3, and it was ultimately a split decision. Ne-Yo went with Chibi Unity. Lopez picked MDC 3. That meant it was Hough who cast the deciding vote … for MDC 3. Once again, an act that significantly deviated from their initial style was overtaken by an act that doubled down on what previously made them successful. But Twitch is the reason Oxygen got another chance in the Upper Division. Perhaps he’ll give Chibi Unity another chance in the Junior Division by choosing them for the redemption round.

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