"World of Dance" The Duels conclude with more difficult match-ups. So far, though, the act that scored higher in the first round has emerged victorious in this round as well, rendering it essentially unnecessary. What we need to see is an upset with someone coming to this party to slay and taking out a contender ranked above them. Otherwise, why are we doing this? Don't get me wrong, I love seeing these dancers perform again, but I don't want the results to essentially be a foregone conclusion. Thankfully, tonight offered several surprise upsets.
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. This time around, it's simply a matter of outscoring your opponent. Categories include performance, technique, choreography, creativity, presentation.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.
Kinjaz followed the lead of other acts we've seen before by reaching way down for their match-up to a team that scored well below them. It's strategically sound, but it's also disappointing from the point of view of wanting to see strong competitions. Kinjaz is tight, while Stroll Groove puts passion and emotion into their works. But can love overcome? Probably not, after Kinjaz added moving walls to their precision. It was amazing, creating some fantastic visuals and their stunt work was absolutely brilliant. These guys are so on point and in sync, and they upped their game tremendously with smooth choreography. Unfortunately, it wasn't even close. Just as Stroll was getting into their groove, the dance ended. They were doing some stepping and some b-boy moves, but nothing dynamic or particularly memorable. They skipped emotion and went for straight-up dancing, and it wasn't even close.
As expected, L&J brought it with the lifts, but there was almost too much emphasis on it over actual dance. Incorporated as part of a dance routine, these lifts can be absolutely breathtaking, but we're barely given a chance to take a breath before the next one takes off. They're amazing at what they do, and I loved the hands-free spin, and even the reverse lift to close the dance, but I want to see more dance from them. And then DNA came out and once again, her partner was not strong enough. He fell down right at the top, and though they gave us very sharp dance moves, every lift was a bit of a struggle, and a couple of them were downright disastrous. She's a stronger dancer than he is, and could really shine with a stronger partner (literally). What a disappointment, and so difficult to watch. I cringed several times. I wish I could combine the dance technique of DNA with the lift capabilities of Luka & Jenalyn. That would be an amazing couple to watch.
Luka & Jenalyn Judges Scores: 88.7
Luka & Jenalyn My Score: 17 (Pe.), 16 (Te.), 16 (Ch.), 19 (Cr.), 19 (Pr.) = 87
DNA Judges Scores: 80.3
DNA My Score: 15 (Pe.), 14 (Te.), 18 (Ch.), 17 (Cr.), 16 (Pr.) = 80
D'Angelo & Amanda (#3) vs. The Mihacevich Sisters (#5) [Junior]
(D'Angelo & Amanda Video Unavailable)
On the first floor spin, Amanda lost her spot and faltered, and then seemed dizzy getting back to her feet. Spotting is essential, and it's hard to recover from if you've blown it as it throws off your equilibrium and rhythm. The Sisters were much tighter, working better as a unit. It was a lovely and strong contemporary piece against a faltering Latin number. We didn't see all of either performance, but the winner was clear, and I got the upset I was looking for. Granted, it came because Amanda genuinely messed up, but I'll take it. These two were tightly matched coming into the round, making for a more interesting duel. But with a tight pair, shouldn't we have seen the entire performances, over seeing blowout duels.
The Mihacevich Sisters My Score: 17 (Pe.), 18 (Te.), 16 (Ch.), 15 (Cr.), 17 (Pr.) = 83
Jabbawockeez (#5) vs. Ian Eastwood & the Young Lions (#6) vs Rouge (#8) [Team]
The first three-way battle features the three teams that were left after selections were made. While Jabbawockeez might seem the obvious favorite, they didn't bring their A-game their first time out. A vulnerable Jabbawockeez could leave room for an upset. Rouge kicked it off and seemed rattled by the competition. An aerial cartwheel suddenly found hands, and they faltered a bit in their lines. The energy was there, but they didn't really bring anything super memorable to their performance and are unlikely to continue after that. Jabbawockeez brought some of their new groove to the isolations that made them famous, and it's an interesting mix. They definitely brought it with a much stronger performance, and I think it's my personal preference for the Jabbawockeez of old that kept me from loving it outright. Ian Eastwood and the Young Lions came out strong and definitely upped their game from their first time out, but there still wasn't enough dynamism to win this duel for me. I appreciated some of the isolations they tried, and they were impressively in sync throughout the routine. This is an up and coming group for sure, but I'm not thinking this is their year just yet. The judges disagreed. I had a one-point spread and they did, too. They just gave the edge to Ian Eastwood & the Young Lions.