"World of Dance" judges Ne-Yo, Jennifer Lopez, and Derek Hough (Trae Patton, courtesy NBC)

6 Junior Dance Acts to Watch on "World of Dance" This Season

If COVID-19 cancellations have you missing the high-energy dynamic of dance competitions, we feel you. Luckily, "World of Dance" returns to NBC this month, bringing all the dance-competition realness you've been missing straight to your living room.

This season's roster of dancers has us seriously pumped—especially the talent in the junior category. Here are six of the junior dance acts we're most excited for this season.

Project 21

We're beyond excited to see Molly Long's standout studio on the "World of Dance" stage. You might recognize the group from, well, pretty much any competition or convention in the last six years—since its founding in 2014, Project 21 has become iconic in the comp scene. Here's hoping our fave mini-diva Gracyn French will make an appearance.

Madison Penney

16-year-old Madison Penney is bringing bunhead realness to "World of Dance" this season. Aside from her flawless technique and seemingly-endless extensions, Maddy is a competition veteran, with a long list of achievements under her hip-alignment belt. She's a two-time winner at the Youth America Grand Prix finals, a World Ballet Competition gold medalist, and a Royal Ballet School scholar.

Bailey Sok and Kida Burns

Talk about a dynamic duo: Bailey Sok and Kida Burns (aka Kida the Great ) are the hip-hop partnership of our dreams. You might know Bailey from basically all of your fave dance videos, her amazing internet presence, or her appearance as a Dance Spirit "You Should Know" kid way back in 2016. And you might recognize Kida from when he was crowned America's Favorite Dancer on "So You Think You Can Dance: Next Generation," casually.

Chibi Unity

All the way from Japan, this fusion dance crew is for sure one to watch. Chibi Unity was founded in 2017, and that same year, the crew won first place at the VIBE Jrs competition in L.A.—and for the next two years, too. Chibi Unity is famous for creative choreo and dazzling unison dancing, making them sure to stand out on the "World of Dance" stage.

Keagan Capps

Comp queen Keagan Capps is ready to make her mark on the dance world. Just last year, Keagan dazzled audiences at The Dance Awards with her out-of-this-world extensions and spot-on musicality, winning her the Junior Best Dancer title. Since then, she's been touring with Break the Floor.

Amari Caron

17-year-old Amari Caron is a hip-hop king. A regular on the comp and convention circuit, Amari has danced alongside icons like Sean Lew, Tricia Miranda, Kaycee Rice, and Jade Chynoweth. Most recently, Amari toured with RADIX as a teaching assistant.

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How Project 21 Is Shaping the Next Generation of Competition-Dance Standouts

"I wish I had a better story about the name," says Molly Long, founder of the Orange County, CA–based dance studio Project 21. In truth, it's a play on the fact that she was born on the twenty-first of August, and 21 is her favorite number. "I was away on a teaching tour, the audition announcement was going live on Instagram the next day, and I desperately needed a name. Project 21 was just the least cheesy of the options I thought of!"

The fact that fans might expect the name to have some profound meaning speaks to the near-mythic status Project 21 has achieved on the competition and convention scene since its founding in 2014. Long's dancers are all wholly individual, yet jell seamlessly as a group, and are consistently snagging top prizes everywhere on the circuit. Each season brings a slew of new accolades, high-caliber faculty, and legions of devoted followers.

The industry has taken notice of the studio's unique ethos. "Molly gets through to her dancers in a special way, and they have this incomparable level of commitment to their craft as a result," says dancer and choreographer Billy Bell, who's worked closely with Long and her dancers. "That's what sets them apart—it's like a little dose of magic."

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