In the season's nastiest round, a dozen acts enter the Divisional Final, but only four move on -- one from each division (Upper, Upper Team, Junior, Junior Team)
The biggest bloodbath of the season eliminations two-thirds of the competition in one fell swoop. It's the Divisional Finals on "World of Dance" and it is brutal!
Coming into the night, there are three remaining finalists from each of the four divisions. But only one from each will move on to next week's finals. It's do or die time, and by "die" we mean pack up your bags and get the hell on up outta here!
In another twist similar to the Redemption Round of the Duels, the judges have a Wild Card they can use if they want to. They have to agree to save one eliminated act from across all the divisions, and if they do, that act advances into the World Final, making it a five-act battle.
But before that, the divisions proved just how tight the competition is. In fact, in one division, two different acts got four perfect scores between them, and yet one of them fell just short with a score that easily beat every other act in the competition save one.
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.
(Upper) They had a very ambitious trick planned for the end of this routine and absolutely blew it. Madison stumbled on the first jump and that threw off Derion and it was game over from there. It's a shame, too, as they had some really fun tricks to that point, some awesome personality and really impressive use of their props, including those jackets.
(Upper) Nobody does what John does the way John does it, and it is such a treat to watch. He gave us heart last time, but this time it was about fun and creating pictures and intricate tricks with the subtlest of movements. He makes it look so easy, but there is so much precision and work that goes into making it look that way.
(Upper) Briar came with a complete vision, incredible athleticism and dance moves Britney Spears only wishes she could have. She totally channeled the pop diva with her look, but the moves were all her own. It was powerful, strong and yet graceful at times. Her hybrid of gymnastics and contemporary creates something wholly unique and utterly awe-inspiring.
(Junior Team) This was such a powerful and personal story, and it was definitely made more so by knowing the.message behind the piece. But regardless, it was danced beautiful and the choreography captured that feeling of isolation growing toward acceptance and kinship. This group is so ridiculous talented at such a tender age, their synchronicity is on point and their strength is ridiculous. It's astonishing to think what the next decade or two will do for them. And then the moment that Naia actually spoke to Kendyl was the sweetest thing ever.
(Junior Team) We've seen them cleaner but perhaps never this fun. This routine had so much humor throughout mixed with very fast choreography. Their synchronicity suffered a bit here and there, but with such a large group, they continued to create very intricate and cool pictures. More complex movement would have been nice, but for pure entertainment value and energy, they nailed it.
(Junior Team) This one got stronger as it went along, as if it took the girls a bit of time to find their rhythm and the strength of their message. It was a powerfully choreographed piece and it was danced mostly well. They weren't as tight as they could have been on some parts, nor did they hit as hard as necessary. But by the halfway point, they'd found their groove and it finished very strong, on message and on point.
(Junior) It's hard to decide what's better to watch. Their partnering is so beautiful and innovative, we could watch what they come up with all day. But their side-by-side is so perfectly in sync, we could watch that all day. And then you add the emotional connection and the intent behind everything they do and these sisters take us on an emotional journey every time. That was just about flawless.
(Junior) There were a lot of fun elements to this piece, but it seemed to be missing that wow factor. Charlize is a sick dancer, and Julian hits everything so hard. They're top-notch at delivering whatever is presented, but it feels like Julian's choreography this time wasn't quite as strong as it's been in the past. There wasn't a clear narrative throughout the piece, though he did play off of the lyrics well throughout.
(Junior) Once again, Kayla takes pointe where it's never gone before and manages to be elegant, graceful, gritty, strong and beautiful all at the same time. Her technique is sick and the choices she makes when to showcase the pointe and when to go full contemporary are so smart. Her musicality is among the best in the competition, and really just shows how stacked this division is.
(Upper Team) Probably their strongest performance yet from an emotional standpoint, The Haima found beauty in b-boy and artistry and musicality and brought it all to the stage. At the same time can we talk about how sick it was how that dude took his shirt off while doing shoulder flares? That was artistry and magical. Their sync is getting tighter and they're really getting stronger at bringing true dance into b-boy in a way that feels fresh and important.
(Upper Team) What an unbelievable piece of storytelling. The song, the door, the two characters of a daughter and a father. Everything else was pure artistry and it was so powerfully moving, the feelings resonate within you long after it ended. This was a piece that was absolutely felt even more than it was watched. And it was performed with such raw and authentic emotion. It was the best this group has ever been by far. It was so powerful it evne gave Ne-Yo his first-ever goosies.
(Upper Team) Did all of those tricks come off without a hitch? The Kings came out like it was the Battle Rounds 2.0 and they were out for blood. The routine was filled with very powerful moments and they did have some great choreography to go along with it. But there were a few moments that weren't as sharp as they've been in the past, and the one flip-fall really did look like a mess. If it was a mistake, that explains it. If it wasn't, it looked too much like one.
Briar Nolet barely eked by Poppin John, but she is absolutely deserving of representing the Upper Division in the World Final. In the Junior Team Division it was hard to say goodbye to sentimental favorites The Crazy 8's, but there's no denying that VPeepz has been strong since day one.
The Junior Division proved the toughest and tightest competition of the night, with all three contenders really soaring. Ellie & Ava really did earn their spot, though, with tremendous growth throughout the season until they really touched everyone with tonight's piece.
It was a race to the finish in the toughest division in the competition, the Upper Team. When you can score a 98.7 and not win, that says a lot. That's what happened to Unity LA after an amazing routine fell just short of The Kings. But The Kings have dominated every round of the competition, and are the clear front-runners to win it all, so if anyone was going to do it, it would be them.
But ... it's not necessarily the end of the road for anyone. The judges could still choose to use their Wild Card to save any of the eliminated acts. But did they? Well, J.Lo chose to make everyone wait until next week's World Final to find out.
"World of Dance" airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.