Another fan-favorite from Season 1 returned to "World of Dance" on Tuesday night where they faced their biggest challenge yet after an injury nearly sidelined their dream.
But they weren't the only dancers to blow away the judges with their poise and grace under pressure. A pair of ten-year-old world champions brought one of the tightest jives reality competition television has ever seen, while other new styles of dance were represented, including afrodance and "heels" dance.
It was another hot night of competition as the Qualifiers roll on, and with each passing night we are learning more and more that the Duels are going to be more brutal than ever. There are some damned fine dancers on this show!
Dancers are divided into four categories: Junior (17 & Under, 1-4 Dancers) and Upper (18 & Older, 1-4 Dancers). First up it's the Qualifiers, a free-for-all round, with no head-to-head competitions. But acts need to score 80 points out of a possible 100 to advance to the next round. Each act is judged 0-20 points in each of five categories for a possible total of 100 points.
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.
(Upper Team) Professional backup dancers came together to form this contemporary supergroup, including one guy who's danced with J.Lo. This time, he choreographed and danced for her and it was a pretty impressive debut. "Now I get to tell you what I really think," she told him. But it was all good news, as the judges praised their musicality and strong choreography. There were a few times it felt like maybe the group is a little too large at thirteen dancers, but then they'd create stirring visuals and powerful imagery as a wall of synchronous movement and I was telling myself to shut up. There was definitely some interesting stuff going on, some nice technique and creative use of one another throughout.
(Junior) This ten-year-old ballroom pair has already won multiple championships, and on top of that, Daniel bears an uncanny resemblance to one Derek Hough. But the resemblance isn't just physical, as these kids absolutely slayed that jive, with impeccable carriage, poise, grace, lines, just everything. It's a shame this and "Dancing with the Stars" are on different networks, as this pair could give lessons to the "DWTS" celebs. I can only imagine the greatness ahead for them as they continue to grow bigger, stronger and more mature as dancers. Just wow!
(Upper Team) This group actually described their style as "heels," even though ballroom dances on heels. The difference, though, might be that these look like 6" stilettos and they are so very thin. Some ladies can barely walk in those, much less dance. Honestly, it was like nothing I've seen in a competition. Channeling more the dancing seen in music videos and concerts, their musicality and sensuality of movement was off the charts, and Marissa choreographed some really clever groundwork. Usually breakdancers are the ones doing so much work on the floor, but these girls got down and dirty and brought it. It was tight, visually exciting, totally engaging and mesmerizing to watch. I couldn't wait to see what they would do next.
(Junior) There is a sinuous quality to her movement that helps her to stand out a bit from traditional contemporary, but in a competition that includes Season 1 runner up Eva Igo, this has got to be flawless. Madison was a bit wobbly at two points through that performance, and her visuals weren't as strong or striking as they could have been. Plus, I felt a little bit of repetition in some of her tricks. She's going to need to really focus on her choreography and finding what she wants to say through dance so her performance sells that story.
(Junior) This foursome is still pretty unpolished, or maybe they just bit off a little more than they can chew, but there are some elements that were a lot of fun. Their groove segment was much tighter and stronger than their harder hitting moments, as they haven't yet been able to match one another's intensity. Somersaults were out of synch, and the energy levels across the group were inconsistent at times. I loved their stank face to start out, and their attitude is in the right place, but they're just not quite ripe yet for me, though the judges totally disagreed.
(Upper Team) This group brings afrodance to America through instruction and performance, and then gives back to Africa proceeds from their work. While it was entertaining to watch, this is a competition and they didn't bring nearly enough to really standout. Competition choreography is different than performance or teaching choreo, so if they move on they realy need to think about wowing the judges and audiences each time. There were no moments that blew me away with strong visuals, difficulty or intricate technique. It was just kind of there.
(Upper Team) Back for a second shot after getting booted at the Duels, Royal Flux was three hours from performing when one of the girls fractured her foot. She was nevertheless determined to try and perform on one foot if she had to, and so she did. They clearly did some tweaking of their intricate choreography to better accommodate her injury and keep her off of that foot more, but it was barely noticeable. On top of that, it was a brilliantly creative piece that was performed nearly to perfection. With so many moving parts it was impossible to see it all, but a routine well worth a rewatch. That's how you persevere through anything to pursue your dreams.