Julian and Charlize gave us alllll the goosies. (Trae Patton/NBC)
Look, we love all the extraordinary competitors on NBC's "World of Dance," but let's be real here: The Junior Division dancers are our favorites. How could we not be obsessed with the category that, in past seasons, has included Eva Igo, and Diana Pombo, and Jaxon Willard, and Sean andKaycee, and Madison Brown? In the Venn diagram of "people who've appeared on 'WOD'" and "people who've been featured in Dance Spirit," this is by far the group with the biggest overlap.
That's why last night's Junior Division Duels had us feeling some kind of way. We knew and loved pretty much everyone involved! We didn't want anybody to go home!
Alas: This is reality TV, so our hearts were, inevitably, broken. But we'll put on our big-girl pants and run down the episode's highlights for you. Because we're PROFESSIONALS. *sniff*
We were intrigued by contemporary ballerina Kayla Mak's choice to face off against hip-hop duo Funkanometry. How would the judges compare two acts that're so totally unalike? With difficulty, as it turns out. Funkanometry won everyone over with their incredible precision (and that ICE COLD ballet shoe drop at the end of their routine); Kayla showed off her signature gorgeous facility, but seemed to be having a bit of an off night technically. It seems like her minor wobbles cost her the duel, which she lost by just .7 points. Ballerinas everywhere breathed a sigh of relief when we found out her score was high enough to earn her a spot in the Redemption round.
How often does a hip-hop routine give you goosies? Julian and Charlize achieved that rare feat last night. The duo performed to ASAP Ferg's "New Level," and no song choice could've been more appropriate: Their impeccably synchronized, hard-hitting number was 100% new-level stuff. The Trilogy's contemporary fluidity was perfectly lovely, but ultimately no match for Julian and Charlize, who outscored Trilogy by more than five points.
We weren't feeling a whole lot of suspense going into Lauren Yakima's Duel with House of Tap, since Lauren earned a full 10 points more than the tap team during the Qualifiers. But the two acts were, surprisingly, evenly matched. Both elevated their routines by incorporating hip-hop elements, and House of Tap further upped the ante with some canny a cappella moments. Despite their best efforts, though, the tappers couldn't top Lauren's "ungodly talent," to quote Ne-Yo. The contemporary phenom made it through to the Cut with the highest score of the night.
House of Tap didn't have any time to relax: They came right back out for the Redemption round, in which they faced off against Kayla Mak. Two of the most underrepresented styles on the show, battling to the death! Both acts left it ALL on the dance floor. The judges sent Kayla through to the Cut, but major snaps to House of Tap for their valiant final "WOD" effort.
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)
Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers by clicking on their names here:
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When it comes to injury-prone body parts, knees reign supreme for dancers. But a little strengthening can go a long way in preventing painful outcomes. We turned to Dirk Hartog, a physical therapist with Westside Dance Physical Therapy in NYC, for three exercises that'll support and stabilize your knees.
James Whiteside (Jayme Thornton for Dance Magazine)
Say you're perpetually impeccable designer Thom Browne. Say you're planning your Spring 2020 Paris menswear show along a "Versailles country club" theme. Say you want a world-class danseur to open the show with some kind of appropriately fabulous choreography.
Who do you call? James Whiteside, of course. On Saturday, the American Ballet Theatre principal—wearing pointe shoes and a glorious pinstriped tutu—kicked off Browne's presentation at the École des Beaux-Arts with a 15-minute, show-stealing solo. Whiteside choreographed the piece himself, with the help of detailed notes from the designer.