If you caught the World of Dance qualifiers last week, you know that Derek Hough, Ne-Yo and Jennifer Lopez get to judge some of the best unknown dancers in the biz. It’s already clear that this season is going to be just as incredible as last year’s, if not better, and we couldn’t be more excited to see who makes it through the qualifiers to the Duel round. In this second episode, dancers were still competing in Junior (17 years old and under, 1-4 dancers), Junior Team (17 years old and under, 5-15 dancers), Upper (18 years old and older, 1-4 dancers) and Upper Team (18 years old and older, 5-15 dancers) brackets. By scoring an 80 or above average from the judges, they’d make it to the Duel round.
The episode started off strong with a Junior team from California, The Lab. After getting cut earlier than they wanted to last season, they were determined to come back better than ever — and they did! These talented youngsters kicked the night off in the best way with their fast-paced breakdancing routine, set to a “Boogie Shoes” remix. Not only did the group earn an immediate standing ovation from the judges when they finished, but J.Lo called them “a force to be reckoned with.” She especially loved how they ended with a headspin that kicked off into an exclamation point. And good news — she wasn’t the only one who thought so. The Lab earned a score of 94, which means they’re headed to the Duels. Phew! Just like the judges, we can’t get enough of these guys.
A married couple took the stage next — Pasha and Daniella from Staten Island. Originally from Russia, Pasha had moved his family to the United States to pursue his career, even though it meant leaving his brother behind. Clearly passionate about dancing, Pasha brought that passion front and center for the judges as he and his wife performed a smokin’ hot ballroom routine set to James Blake‘s “Limit To Your Love.” Although Ne-Yo wasn’t wowed or on the edge of his seat like he wanted to be, Jennifer and Derek’s high scores brought the husband and wife up to an 86.3. “Make me believe it,” Ne-Yo advised them for next time. We can’t wait to see what they come up with!
All the way from Chihuahua, Mexico, the next Upper team immediately had the crowd roaring when a sped-up remix began blasting — and they had the moves to match it. And with the personality Connection brought to the stage, as well as their perfect synchronization, we know we aren’t the only ones who thought Connection’s hip-hop routine was over way too soon. But just when we thought we couldn’t like them more, one of the members opened up about the role dancing has played in all of their lives. “It was very dangerous for all of us,” he said when J.Lo asked about their hometown. “Dancing kept us away.” And it looks like they’ll be staying away since the judges locked their scores in with a whopping 90.7 average!
Up next was a 17-year-old pair from Utah, Charity and Andres. They came in extra prepared after months spent crafting a dream board and performing for three stuffed animals, a.k.a. judges, but would it be enough? Uh, YES! The teens captivated the audience from the get-go with one amazing lift after the next. It seemed as if Charity was airborne more often than not, and their chemistry was undeniable. “I would assume you guys were a couple. The connection is that strong,” Ne-Yo said, although Charity’s face quickly cleared up that they’d only been acting. But their contemporary performance to Lauv‘s “I Like Me Better” was definitely convincing if their score of 95.3 was anything to go by. Who’s pumped to see them in the Duels round? We know we are!
Then it was time for another pair! BDash and Konkrete combined krump and choreography on the World of Dance stage. The talented duo weren’t just dancing for themselves, though, but to inspire their sons into doing whatever they set their mind to. They performed to Big Sean‘s “Moves,” which they definitely had, even incorporating one of their baseball hats into the routine as a prop. “I’ll remember this routine, for sure,” Derek told them, calling their choreo creative and innovative. “It was so great.” But the judges won’t have to just remember BDash and Konkrete because they’ll be seeing them in the next round! Their 94.3 score was more than high enough to earn them a spot.
After so many wins in a row, it was impossible not to be a little on edge during the last performance. Was it possible everyone would make it to the Duel round? As soon as we saw Fabulous Sisters, the Fukushima natives who had survived the tragic 2011 earthquake and the nuclear disaster that followed, we so hoped that was true. Luckily, the junior team managed to stay super synchronized as they moved swiftly through their routine in flowing red skirts, and their precision paid off. “I just could not take my eyes off of you guys,” J.Lo said. Her high score, along with Derek’s and Ne-Yo’s, sent these ladies straight to the Duel round with a 94.7. Watching them scream and cry with excitement was almost as great as watching their routine.