We have one issue with the premiere episode of “World Of Dance:” We want more!
Dance.com was able to see a press screener hosted by mentor Jenna Dewan Tatum and judge NE-YO in New York City earlier this month, so we’ve had a lot of time to process the show and all of the dancing.
One thing is certain: These are truly the best dancers the world has to offer.
They would have to be, too, since they’re performing in front of judges NE-YO, Derek Hough and Jennifer Lopez with the chance of winning a $1 million cash prize.
“It’s the Olympics of dance,” Lopez says at the beginning of the show and explains how judging works.
Dancers are divided into three groups — Junior, Upper and Team — and are each scored on technique, choreography, creativity, performance and presentation. Each judge awards them up to 20 points in each criteria, with the perfect total being 100. All three scores are then averaged for an overall score, which determines whether they move on to the next round.
In the first round, dancers had to score an 80 or higher to be eligible to continue. Almost all of the performers were advanced to the next round, but the first episode showed only seven of the 30 or more competitors.
First up to perform on the circular stage was Super Cr3w, a breakdance group from Las Vegas who danced to Coldplay’s “When I Ruled The World.” NE-YO called the group’s intricate, fluid movements “smooth like water,” and we had to agree. They advanced on with a final score of 88.
Next up was D’Angelo & Amanda, a ballroom duo hailing from Miami competing in the junior division that caught the eye of ballroom master, Derek. “Way to represent,” he shouted when they finished their routine, which combined touched on the many styles of ballroom. Amanda upped the ante with her extreme leg extensions, which wow’ed Derek. But he advised the duo to “move their hips” more, and then, like the pro he is, demonstrated how it’s done. They scored an 88.3 to advance.
Judges were more than excited to see the next performers competing in the Upper division, Les Twins. Both J.Lo and NE-Yo both pointed out they’ve seen the French twins’ YouTube videos — and performances from the six years they toured with Beyonce — so they had some high standards. Thankfully for Laurent and Larry, the judges’ expectations were met, with a clean and sharp performance. “You created a world everyone gets sucked into,” Hough said. They scored the highest of the night with a near perfect 95.7.
The journey to the “World of Dance” finale fell short for NXT LVL, a clogging group from Myrtle Beach, S.C., whose short performance simply just “needed more,” as NE-YO pointed out, and was too “repetitive” as noted by J.Lo. But they earned some respect from Hough who said they looked like “guys I want to grab a beer with.”
Keone & Mari really caught the judges’ attention when they choreographed an error into their routine. During a spin towards Keone, Mari smacked right into him — which nearly knocked Hough right out of his chair. But it turned out, the mistake was part of the story they were telling about their evolution dancing together as a married couple, something the judges found to be brilliant. J.Lo said the dynamic duo gave her “goosebumps” and Hough called them “lovable.” They earned a solid 85 to move on.
“This is the power of synchronicity,” NE-YO said of the Kinjaz, a Los Angeles-based urban dance group who use Martial Arts to inspire their moves. Derek said he was “at a loss for words” after watching their performance. Backstage, Les Twins were in complete awe with their jaws dropped watching behind-the-scenes. “You made fingers dynamic,” NE-YO said of the group’s intricate choreography using only their digits. “It wasn’t enough,” J.Lo said, with baited breath. “I want more.” They scored a 91 to advance to the next round.
The most memorable performance of the night — and the one we couldn’t stop discussing in the Dance.com office — was Diana Pombo, an 11-year-old contemporary dancer from Miami, Fla. At first, Lopez called her a “munchkin,” but she proved to be a force to be reckoned with, despite competing in the Junior division against adults. Her flexibility, flawless technique and spirit dazzled on staged and earned a standing ovation from all three judges. NE-YO was completely awestruck by Diana’s flexibility, pointing out that while in a back bend, “she just wiped off her head with her foot.”
“That was all passion,” he added. She scored an 89.7, and we can’t wait to see what else she can do!
And just like that, the first episode was over. Suffice to say, we’re hooked.