A shocking final Duel sets up an epic Redemption Round that proves the final moment for one of the season's most exciting acts.
The Juniors took their turn in the brutal Duels round of "World of Dance," and proved that they are fearless once again in tackling the spirit of competition.
Last week, the Junior Teams were absolutely savage, but they also continued the trend of proving that just because you come into this round with a higher score doesn't mean those below you are easy picking.
In fact, the best duel of the night came down to the top act versus the bottom act from the previous round, and we're still mad about how it turned out, with one of the most innovative and exciting acts of the night getting the boot.
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. This season, acts need to score 85 points out of a possible 100 to advance to the next round (it was 80 in previous seasons). 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.
(Junior) The contemporary duo chose a pair of krumpers, which certainly is an interesting dichotomy. Audrey & Mia absolutely outburned them in the round, which we know Ne-Yo loves, but what the sisters lacked in burn they made up for in heartfelt beauty. Theirs was a piece of true art. They were out of synch ever so slightly in a few places, but perfectly in synch in other challenging ones. This was a moving and powerful piece. Audrey & Mia were cute in response with some fun reactions, but they weren't quite as tight in their own choreography. Plus, after a powerhouse performance, their routine just felt a little lackluster.
Ellie & Ava Judges Scores: 91.7
Ellie & Ava My Score: 18 (Performance), 17 (Technique), 19 (Choreography), 18 (Creativity), 17 (Presentation) = 89
Audrey & Mia Crew Judges Scores: 90
Audrey & Mia Crew My Score: 16 (Performance), 17 (Technique), 17 (Choreography), 18 (Creativity), 18 (Presentation) = 86
Kayla Mak (3) vs Funkanometry (5)
(Junior) Kayla challenged herself by choosing higher in the rankings, but felt confident she could take them. The boys really stepped up their game from the qualifiers with a much tighter routine filled with fun burns, lots of energy and very slick control. It was an infectious piece and even if their timing suffered a bit, they certainly earned their spot in this round with that. Kayla came out fierce and strong with a cool routine, but she struggled with her stability almost throughout. There were so many wobbly support legs and repositionings it got more than a little distracting. She was not up to what she gave us last time, unfortunately, because she's so unique and such a great dancer.
(Junior) It's contemporary v contemporary, but also one v four. Both acts were given critiques on their choreography to ensure they're showing something new and really bringing their music to life. Aydin came out hard with his routine first, hitting some pretty tough tricks along the way, but there was still something missing. His choreography was definitely sharper and more competitive, but it also had a few odd disconnect moments and a heavy flop at the end. Moving 4ward brought a clear vision and some cool groupwork, but they also brought some serious synch issues that stood out. Everyone has to be tight or it can fall apart. Aydin out-tricked them, but they may have had stronger emotional content.
(Junior) Julian & Charlize put some stank on their routine, slamming The Trilogy left and right. But they also brought a great groove and swagger throughout a complicated piece that demanded unity of motion and intention. Everything was there. It was polished and clean and imminently entertaining and so very dirrty. Trilogy took the opposite round, but damn if it wasn't every bit as compelling, so clean and precise and emotional and beautiful. This is when it's so very difficult to compare such different styles, contemporary to hip-hop in this case.
(Junior) It's top versus bottom as Lauren went for the lowest-scoring act, but that's proven risky so many times in this round. House of Tap has a lot to prove this round and they absolutely brought it with some soft shoe, som hard-hitting tap and even a cappella moments to really allow their footwork to shine. Their upper bodies were choreographed, they added hip-hop and swag and made tap so cool. Then Lauren came out with near-perfect balance and hit so many cool and hard pictures, we couldn't take our eyes off of her, either. Who knew the top and bottom would make the best duel of the night, but it sure did. In fact, Redemption exists for duels like this as both of these acts deserve to carry on. For one wobble, House of Tap gets the edge for us, but really?! Really!? That was amazing!
House of Tap My Score: 18 (Performance), 20 (Technique), 19 (Choreography), 18 (Creativity), 19 (Presentation) = 94
Kayla Mak vs House of Tap
(Junior) House of Tap came out and gave an emotionally wrought performance and proved that tap deserves a chance to be showcased on a show like this. And this duo, with their full-body choreography and intention behind every sound is the best advocate they've had so far for the form. But Kayla's ballet-meets-contemporary is fresh, too, and she was so much sharper and on point(e) here than in her actual Duel. If we were hoping this would be easy, it's just not going to be. And tap never wins moments like this.
My Choice: House of Tap
Judges Choice: Kayla Mak
"World of Dance" airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.