Hey All :)
We are back! World Of Dance returns for an epic fourth season and it all starts tonight. I am happy to see you guys and I hope everyone is remaining safe and healthy through these crazy times. A little entertainment is something we can all use to pass the time. So, let’s be entertained by some phenomenal dancing.
Season four brings some new changes to the format of WOD and that starts right at the beginning with a revamped qualifier round. The contestants will think they are performing for producers of the show before seeing the judges. However, our esteemed panel consisting of Jennifer Lopez, NE-YO, and Derek Hough will surprise them in a stripped down warehouse where they will decide right then and there who makes it to the next round!
Another big change is that the judges will introduce the callback vote, in which they can vote yes to an act, no to an act, or tell them they earned a callback (where they can perform again for a shot at advancing). There is also some cool new changes to the later rounds but we will talk about that when we arrive there. For tonight, it is all about the qualifiers.
Will this be the fourth season in a row where a hip-hop act wins the million dollars? Will we see some returning favorites, perhaps incorporated into new groups? And of course, how many times will Jennifer get the “goosies?” Here we go…
Jennifer wants the contestants to earn their way onto the big stage, so that’s why these auditions are happening in a warehouse. The contestants think they are auditioning for the producers. Scott Evans (our host) is on hand.
First up tonight is Jefferson & Adrianita, a salsa duo in the upper division. They are a couple but have been dancing for seventeen years. They have won competitions around the world. They named their son Derek, after….yes, Derek Hough. They are a little shocked to see the judges, to say the least. DAMN. Now, we know why they are champs. That was incredible. So fast, so intricate, with so many deliciously tricky steps and they never missed a beat.
Ne-Yo calls it slick and tight. Jennifer compares them to previous contestants who didn’t win and says they need a little improvement (faster footwork). Derek loved the tricks and found them surprising. He notes that the surprises need to be maintained. Derek gets up to dance with Adrianita and Jennifer gets up to dance with Jefferson. A dance-off between the “couples.” Ne-Yo will not declare a winner. They need (2) YES votes to go to the duels. Ne-Yo says YES. Derek says YES. Jennifer says YES. THEY GO TO THE DUELS.
Next up tonight is GRVMNT, a hip-hop crew from Canada with the junior division. They express themselves as high energy and sharp. One is the trickster who just goes for anything on the floor. They are all family (not related) and when one’s father passed away, they all came together for him. He dances now as though his dad is watching. They are literally all crying at the experience of doing this. Wait till they see the judges. SURPRISE. They can’t believe it. They are very cool. Love the formations here. It is nothing we haven’t seen before from other hip-hop crews but they definitely have an entertaining way. I appreciate the attention to detail as I was watching- it looked like everyone was in step with one another. A couple of cool moves thrown in and a very solid audition.
Derek says it was well rehearsed. He felt his energy dip in the middle. Ne-Yo thought they did well. It was super clean and strong but he didn’t like the groove moment during the dance. He doesn’t want to see the transitions coming. Jennifer says they have encouraging things but they need to be at another level. Jennifer says YES. Ne-Yo says CALLBACK (they get another opportunity). Derek’s vote is a CALLBACK also. So, this crew will be back to dance BEFORE the duels to see if they can improve. That was a tough critique but I can’t say I disagree. A lot of that was familiar and they need to bring it up a notch.
Next is Jake & Chau. Jake looks nauseous seeing the judges and realizing they are auditioning for them right now. They are contemporary dancers with the upper division. They met at a dance convention. They have good communication and trust. Very good contemporary piece. She’s a wee bit better than he is and he had one or two moments during that which looked sloppy. But they do great partner work and they tell a nice story within the time of the dance.
Derek calls it beautiful and stunning. He loved the connected choreography. Ne-Yo enjoyed the chemistry and trust. Jennifer says they are looking for something new and something that makes them feel and she thinks they are special. Derek notes they should tap a little bit more into the emotional part. Ne-Yo says YES. Jennifer says YES. Derek says YES. They make it to the DUELS.
We continue tonight with The Williams Fam. They represent hip-hop in the upper division. They are social media influencers (because of course). They are going to translate what they do on social media to a stage. They are actual brothers and very close in age. They played it cool being in front of the judges and being surprised. Okay, they are funny and decent. But nothing special. If the earlier group had to get callback, I hope these guys do as well. Actually, I would vote NO if I was a judge. It wasn’t anything special. Maybe on another talent show or at some school event, it would be the highlight. But with these dancers, it was just alright. They bring humor to the steps though, which is a plus.
Derek appreciated the charisma. For Derek, it didn’t mean the high level. Ne-Yo would love watching it on his phone but here, for a million dollars, it was not competition worthy. Jennifer wanted it cleaner and tighter. Jennifer says NO. Ne-Yo also says NO. Derek says NO. They do not make it to the duels. Derek heads backstage to do a social media routine with them to make them feel better. Aw, that was sweet. But letting them go was the correct choice.
Up next are Bailey & Kida, a hip-hop duo in the junior division. This is another pair with a huge social media following. They have appeared on Ellen and have both danced with some incredible names (including Janet Jackson and Jason Derulo). They definitely have a presence in the business. It has only been a few weeks that they have been a duo. Unreal. So good. Best of the night thus far. The dynamite is that even though they are a duo, each had a signature way about them that makes you want to watch them individually and together. The popping and locking was great and they are also really good storytellers within the dance. I understand now why so many artists ask them to dance.
Jennifer tells them they are great performers. But she can tell they haven’t been dancing together for a long time. Derek agrees and thinks the “vibing” will come with time. Ne-Yo loved the isolations. Ne-Yo is impressed and says YES. Derek says YES. Jennifer agrees and they go straight to the duels. They better have gotten three yes votes.
Savannah Manzel is next, a jazz dancer with the junior division. The show has been using this girl in promotional commercials for the show so she should be fantastic. They have highlighted her a lot. She fell in love with dance as a kid. Heck, she is still a kid. She’s NINE. LOL. She makes friendship bracelets and made some for everyone in the waiting room. Her mom tells her she is dancing in front of producers. SHOCKER. No, you are not. She is excited and doesn’t seem at all intimidated by the judges being there. She’s adorable and a little firecracker out there. I am always weary of kids being in competition shows for a variety of obvious reasons. But she has the stuff. Very nice steps. She needs to work on connecting more to the music and telling a story but that’s the job for her choreographers to teach clearly. I am on the fence about whether she should be on a show where she could potentially be devastated by not winning but her mom seems like a good support system.
Jennifer says she looks like she was rehearsing for that for years. She calls her a pretty amazing dancer that is strong and athletic. Derek wants to call his nieces to step it up because Savannah was here. Ne-Yo has no words and her still level is above her years. All the judges say yes and Savannah is on her way to the duels. She is the youngest soloist the show has had.
And with that, the premiere comes to a close. I am so happy this show is back. I hope you all had fun watching with me and were entertained. The qualifiers continue next Tuesday with more auditions as hopefuls are shocked to see the judges in front of them. Join me in a week. Have a safe week everyone. Be strong and love one another.