As long as there is dance on television, your Fifth Judge will be here by your side to help you break it down about how well they … break it down. Jennifer Lopez is behind the latest dance competition to hit television, “World of Dance.” The show got a late start on Tuesday night at 10 p.m. ET, but couldn't have asked for a better lead-in than the show of the summer, “America's Got Talent,” which I'll also be critiquing with you.
Jenna Dewan Tatum (“Step Up”) hosts and mentors this dance competition that features solo performers, couples and even dance troupes all competing as equal acts for the million-dollar prize. It's like somebody combined “So You Think You Can Dance” and “America's Best Dance Crew” with even more variety. Lopez executive produces, but also sits on the judging panel alongside singer-songwriter/dancer Ne-Yo and six-time “Dancing With the Stars” winner Derek Hough. Yes, that's only three other judges, but the Fifth Judge will not be deterred!
A quick reminder about me: I spent nearly a decade of my life sweating and bleeding to the music as a dancer, all for this moment: armchair judging a dance competition. From a young boy learning a shuffle-ball-change to performing with the St. Louis Ballet Company, I experienced the ups and downs of one of the most difficult physically demanding sports on the planet.
Fair warning, since I'm safe at home, I'm probably going to be a little harsher than my colleagues Ne-Yo, Jennifer Lopez, and Derek Hough. But I might be nicer, too. Maybe.
The competition is broken up into three divisions: Junior (under 18), Upper (up to 4 dancers, 18 and over), and Team (5 or more dancers, 18 and over) -- and each act is judged 0-20 points in each of five categories for a possible total of 100 points. Act need an average of 80 points to advance. Categories include performance, technique, choreography, creativity, presentation. The division champs don't face off until the final round of the competition.
My first critique is that this announcer is awful. He's doing a fake low voice and it's like a bad joke. Can we fire him by next week?
I've got mixed feelings about winners from other dance competitions competing, but J.Lo did call this the Olympics of dance, so I have to allow it. They cited a lot of credits, but didn't mention that the group won Season 2 of “ABDC.” It was old-school b-boy style and there was a lot going on throughout the piece. I would have liked to have seen more tightness when they were supposed to be together, A few places it was very good, but there were others were there were out of synch. I did appreciate the folding fan move. I think it lacked overall cohesiveness and didn't really have a vision, but it was well executed. I just wasn't dazzled by it and have seen this crew perform stronger.
There was an incredible amount of technique in this young couple at 16- and 17-years old, but they did rush through a few steps, not finishing the movement of the previous step before moving on. This was particularly evident in their arms. I thought D'Angelo was a little stronger on the technical side, but this is an impressive partnership at such a young age, with very challenging choreography.
Laurent & Larry Bourgeois are twins from Paris who were finalists on a talent show there. They went viral on YouTube in the states and have toured with some of the top artists. They put some stank on the stage and have some of the most amazing hip-hop choreography I've ever seen. They work together so well it's like their of the same mind. Synchronicity, talent, skill, performance. It's definitely setting a very high standard for any other hip-hop dancer to try and match. These are clearly dancers at the top of their game. I loved that they told a story with this piece, and you could feel the emotion throughout. They did some absolutely amazing things together, and were each powerful separate. Just wow.
These cloggers have their own show in South Carolina, bringing clogging to the big stage. It's a difficult dance technique to make exciting and compelling, and while they had some fun tricks to it, it just wasn't tight enough for me. Impressive clogging has a lot of synchronicity to it at key parts, because then the sounds of the taps just dominates. These guys are all good tappers individually, but I didn't see them come together as a unit enough to compete with some of the others we've seen in the competition already. The choreography lacked imagination as well. It's tough to sell this style visually, but with a stage show already I really expected them to be able to bring something more.
This married couple already had a strong following in the hip-hop dance community, but they achieved national fame after choreographing and performing in the music video for Justin Bieber's “Love Yourself” single. In it, they prove they are storytellers through dance. This time around, they kept it light and gave a very fun and energetic piece. They proved themselves consummate choreographers. They could have been a little sharper in a few places, but they are absolutely proven and you can see why. They're not as strong as Les Twins, but they are definitely a force to be reckoned with in this category.
This dance troupe has a background in martial arts, which influences their style and choreography. This is what I was looking for in a dance crew. They were tight and in synch throughout, with intricate but artful movements. The musicality of this group is through the roof. They visualized each beat and flow of the song in a way that made you notice it just as much as you noticed what they were doing. That's a rare treat in a dancer, and especially in an entire crew. Absolutely stunning performance from top to bottom, and all the more impressive as they did it entirely through their bodies as their faces were partially obscured by a mask. The JabbaWockeeZ crew (who have been seen in clips on this show, so I suspect they'll be making an appearance) popularized this on “ABDC” where they won the first season, but the Kinjaz just proved themselves every bit as good.
This 11-year-old dancer emoted beyond her years in this contemporary piece. Her choreography was slightly limited just because of her experience level and exposure, probably, but it took nothing away from her execution. She performed beautifully, and revealed amazing flexibility along the way. But rather than use that “stunt” as a crutch, she used it to enhance and make more challenging everything else she was doing. The control she had in her body was impressive, her technique and form were nearly flawless. For her age, she is at a very advanced level and deserving of all the accolades coming her way. In fact, scrap for her age. She's just very, very good.