WORLD OF DANCE Recap: And The Final Qualifiers Are…

For the first time since the series began, a few comparatively weak competitors managed to meet the required average score of at least 80 points to advance to the next round.

But even with some of the moments that might have left viewers (or at least this one) scratching their heads, the overall result of WORLD OF DANCE’s final qualifying round was just the same as that of the first two: Whoever manages to win this competition is going to be well worth that million dollars. There are far too many excellent dancers — both those with established reputations and some newer faces — capable of winning nearly any other competition; but there can be only one WORLD OF DANCE champion.

Let’s just start the final round of qualifiers off with an obvious win.

They won the first season of AMERICA’S BEST DANCE CREW back in 2008. So, obviously, the Jabbawockeez had to make an appearance in the first season of WORLD OF DANCE. These guys have been everywhere, including their own Vegas show, for the past nine years. The dancers knew they were putting their reputation on the line and had a target on their backs the second they decided to compete; but they weren’t going to just phone it in. “It’s not like ‘oh, you got a Vegas show, and then you retire,” after all.

As in, if you love dancing, you’re not in it for the money or the fame. You’re here to constantly push yourself to do better. These guys get it.

There’s really no way to critique the Jabbawockeez. So, I just won’t.

The judges, on the other hand, had the unenviable task of not only giving the Jabbawockeez feedback but also giving them scores. See also: A formality at this point because there’s no way WORLD OF DANCE was going to pass on a crew with a reputation for such excellence. Not if the series cared at all about, well, any of its carefully chosen judging criteria.

Ne-Yo probably said it best: “You cannot have a dance competition with the best dancers in the world without the Jabbawockeez.” Like it or not, he’s right. In the interest of keeping the series from turning into a fangirling-fest, Ne-Yo also talked about the actual dancing, saying he really liked the new groove — different from their famous isolations — that the crew had added to their performance. Derek Hough gave a mixed review. While he liked the groove and professed himself to be a “huge fan” of the Jabbawockeez, thus continuing tonight’s fangirl-fest, he also admitted that he missed the isolations.

Cue judges’ table bickering, as Jennifer Lopez wanted more of that groove. She also said the Jabbawockeez “just gave everybody, like, a master class in how to kill it without breaking a sweat.” (Your girl’s not wrong.)

Average score: 86.7. They’re going to be in the next round. Obviously.

After the pesky business of delivering their scores, the judges returned to their Jabbawockeez fangirl-fest, complete with Derek saying he had way more respect for them than ever before since they were willing to put everything on the line to come to this competition.

I sure hope there were selfies and autographs after the show.

The Mihacevich sisters: I know what it’s like to dance with family, and it truly is special.”

This trio was dancing before it was cool. No, wait. That’s not right. They were dancing in the womb, though, as their mother was a dance teacher before they were born. Mark my words: This statement was a setup for the Mihacevich sisters to either be stars or absolute garbage who hated dance. In my experience, there’s no middle ground with children of dance teachers. Seeing as how the Mihacevich sisters were trying to qualify for WORLD OF DANCE, therefore ruling out the hatred option, that meant that all of their dad’s awesome sandwiches had been feeding future stars on the way to dance competitions.

The Mihacevich sisters had everything you’d want to see in a contemporary performance (aka, my personal crack). Their lines were gorgeous; and they had an excellent use of breath in their movement. Steps didn’t just terminate at the end of the count; rather, the dancers created movement that had a life of its own, extending beyond their bodies and beyond time.

That’s not to say that the music and timing didn’t exist, either. I was particularly impressed with how the Mihacevich sisters utilized their music’s accents. Throw in great emotion, especially from the oldest sister; and you’ve got yourselves yet another potential winner. It looks like Studio 82 taught them well.

The judges very impressed with the trio, with J-Lo complimenting the feeling they brought to the dance, as well as the connection between the three of them. Ne-Yo was so impressed with the Mihacevich sisters’ contractions that he had to do some weird impression of them at the judges’ table. Derek commented on the emotions and breath, same as yours truly, so I think he and I should judge something together sometime.

No, really. Derek, please call me.

Average score:  87. Qualified.

Montage time!

Some kid asked J-Lo to call him. Derek got giddy over ballroom. A tap dancer finally squeaked through…And there was a lot more dancing tossed into one fast-paced, flashy highlight reel.

Perhaps the biggest crime of the latest WORLD OF DANCE episode was that it showed some, yet not all, of The Posse’s performance. What little bit the editors happened to keep in the episode stirred up all sorts of pesky feelings. I mean, how can you not want to see the full number when one of the dancers has this to say? “As long as you love yourself, you’re beautiful no matter what people think of you.”

Couldn’t keep up with all the awesome in this segment? Same. But don’t worry: NBC has full routines here.

Swing Latino.

As the name suggests, WORLD OF DANCE is open to dancers from all over the world. Enter Swing Latino, a group of dancers from Colombia, who have been working together for fifteen years. Many of the dancers found it difficult to dance in Colombia; their own parents didn’t even support them.

The joke’s on those unsupportive parents because anybody who doesn’t want to be associated with what Swing Latino did on that stage is an idiot. Their performance was, in a word, shocking. The Colombianos’ footwork was lightning-quick, yet still incredibly clean. And can we talk about that throw?? How? Just how.

The judges were just as shocked after watching Swing Latino as anybody else might have been. Derek Hough reminded everyone that “dancers are athletes. Artistic athletes,” but that was only after he called the group “sparkly.” He’s been around a lot of rhinestones, guys, so he would know. Ne-Yo said the dancers represented Colombia well. And while the men generally tend to fade into the background during ballroom performances, that wasn’t the case here. “Everybody on stage felt like they were meant to be there.” J-Lo spoke to the dancers in Spanish, telling them they had the potential to win the competition. In English, she assured them that people weren’t used to seeing that level of salsa, and “the guys were strong, like, NUTS!”

(Mmm nuts.)

Average score: 89.3

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