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.
Gabriel Figueredo in a variation from Raymonda. VAM Productions, Courtesy YAGP.
This week, over 1,000 young hopefuls gathered in New York City for the Youth America Grand Prix finals, giving them the chance to compete for scholarships and contracts to some of the world's top ballet schools and companies. Roughly 85 dancers made it to the final round at Lincoln Center's David H. Koch Theater on Wednesday. Today, the 20th anniversary of YAGP came to a close at the competition's awards ceremony. Read on to find out who won!
After a string of ballet-company rejections, Jennifer Sydor (here in Laura Peterson's "Failure") found success in other areas of the dance world. (Stephen Delas Heras, courtesy Jennifer Sydor)
In her senior year at Butler University, Jennifer Sydor auditioned for more than a dozen regional ballet companies—and got a string of "no, thank you" responses. "I have an athletic build, and my movement quality isn't the typical ballet aesthetic," Sydor says. "But I'd been laser-focused on ballet. When I didn't get a ballet contract, I was heartbroken."
Her one job offer came from Kim Robards Dance, a small modern company based in Aurora, CO. After attending KRD's summer intensive, Sydor ended up accepting a yearlong position with the troupe. "I was relieved and happy to begin my career," she says. She's been working as a contemporary dancer ever since.
In the dance world, rejection is part of the package. That doesn't make it any more pleasant. But whether you didn't get the Nutcracker role of your dreams or you weren't picked for a job despite feeling like you aced the audition, you can emerge from even the most gut-wrenching "no" smarter and stronger.
Ballet West principal Beckanne Sisk as Kitri (Luke Isley, courtesy Ballet West)
Guess who's baaaaack?! Your resident Dance Spirit astrologers! And on the eve of the Youth America Grand Prix awards ceremony, we thought it was the perfect time to pair each zodiac sign with a variation commonly seen during the competition. After many painstaking hours spent researching, consulting the stars, and staring wistfully into the sky, we compiled our data and present you with the definitive list of each star sign as a YAGP variation! As we said last time, don't @ us if you're not happy with your pairing—the stars don't lie, baby!