“I love it, but I hate this,” said Derek Hough during the redemption round in the “World of Dance” Upper Division Duels. That pretty much summed up the judges’ feelings about the second-chance routines from both acts that were chosen for redemption by guest judge Stephen “Twitch” Boss. Urban dance crew Oxygen and ballet duo Styles and Emma lost their Duels, but then they came back with far better performances that would have easily won had they brought out the big guns when it counted. Watch Oxygen’s redemption routine above. And scroll down to compare it to their initial Duels performance.
The judges adored Oxygen during the Qualifiers round because of how unique their shapes and formations were. It was a stylistic signature that made them stand out in the competition. So it was worrisome when they explained that they wanted to show the judges’ something different during the Duels to prove their versatility. Unfortunately, what they showed the judges was a more traditional hip-hop group number that didn’t break new ground, and they were pitted against the French trio Geometrie Variable, who doubled down on their innovative shapes and tutting and won a Duel that, to be honest, I thought Oxygen should’ve had in the bag.
But Twitch was impressed by Oxygen’s Duel, perhaps because he wasn’t around for their quite-different Qualifiers performance, so he invited them back for redemption, and they brought the house down with one of the cleanest, most intricate, best coordinated group routines of the season — and they included more of the hand formations and shapes that the judges were missing during their Duel. “This is infuriating!” Hough said after their routine. Jennifer Lopez added to the contestants that won their Duels, “Y’all are lucky they didn’t do that the first time … Do not come out here and play!”
The redemption performances from Oxygen and from Styles and Emma were, by my estimation and it seems the judges’ estimation too, the best performances anyone gave during the Duels, and would’ve won if only they’d performed these routines when they had the chance the first time. Hough was “infuriated because we’re gonna have to lose one of you guys now.” Luckily for Oxygen, they were the team the judges chose to advance, while Styles and Emma were eliminated because they kept a winning routine in their back pockets until it was too late. If you hold back on “World of Dance,” you just might get left behind.
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