"World of Dance" is not messing around this season. Last night, J.Lo and her crew took an ax (just a metaphor, of course, but we're imagining it as a beautifully bedazzled ax) to the "WOD" playing field, eliminating six beloved Upper Team and Junior competitors. Brace yourselves: We've entered the land of Very Tough Choices.
Which acts were spared that sparkly ax? Read on, intrepid friends.
Yes, the whole "guy trying to charm the hard-to-get-girl" schtick is, as J.Lo herself noted, the "oldest story of time"—but Julian and Charlize's routine made it darn fun. Their super-crisp, perfectly-executed choreo earned them a solid 93-point score, and a spot in the Division Finals.
We would've lost it if Kayla Mak hadn't made it through this round; in our opinion, the contemporary ballerina has been consistently underrated throughout the competition. So we were relieved when the judges gave her routine—which showcased her signature combination of delicacy and strength—solid mid-90s scores.
Contemporary sisters Ellie and Ava took a bit of a risk last night with a number inspired by their grandfather, a Vietnam vet—a difficult story to tell, and one that Jennifer "didn't get at all" after watching their rehearsals. But the intensity of the finished routine was enough to sell all of the judges, who sent Ellie and Ava through to the next round.
Upper Team Division
The Kings, big-time frontrunners, not only met but exceeded everyone's expectations last night with a routine that somehow included elements of both Bollywood and animation. Derek didn't just give them a standing O—he gave them a standing-on-top-of-the-table O.
Big props to Unity LA's use of props (sorry), which can be a tricky proposition (sorry again) for contemporary groups. The canes in their emotional number symbolized the huge demands dancers make of their bodies, and accordingly how short their careers can be—a sentiment that hit home with us, and the judges.
Rounding out the winners' circle last night was The Heima, the dynamic-yet-polished Korean b-boy group that might be the only act capable of dethroning The Kings. Our heads were spinning just WATCHING their insane head-spinning, which earned them a perfect 100 from Ne-Yo.
School of American Ballet students (Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy SAB)
Do you have a "Strictly Ballet"–sized hole in your heart? Good news: The upcoming docuseries "On Pointe" just might fill it.
The School of American Ballet is teaming up with Imagine Documentaries and DCTV for the project. Though it's not yet clear where "On Pointe" will air, we do know that it'll follow talented SAB students preparing for professional ballet careers—much as Teen Vogue's popular "Strictly Ballet" web series did back in the day. But "On Pointe" marks the first time documentary filmmakers have been allowed access to the school, and it sounds like it'll paint an even more complete picture of the dancers' lives inside and outside the studio.
Choreographer Bob Fosse's signature style—with its jazz hands, inverted knees, and slouched shoulders—is still a huge influence in the dance world (and, thanks to the gloriously dancyFX series "Fosse/Verdon," the TV world). But while you know to expect plenty of Fosse-isms during a stage performance of Chicago or Sweet Charity, Fosse's legacy has also seeped into pop music culture, inspiring the likes of Beyoncé and Lady Gaga. Here are just six of the many music videos that reference Fosse's iconic works.
Gabrielle Hamilton in John Heginbotham's dream ballet from Oklahoma! Photo by Little Fang Photo, courtesy DKC/O&M
Last night, longtime theater legends (including Chita Rivera herself!) as well as rising stars gathered to celebrate one of Broadway's danciest events: the third annual Chita Rivera Awards.
The evening paid tribute to this season's dancer standouts, extraordinary ensembles, and jaw-dropping choreography—on- and off-Broadway and on film.
As usual, several Dance Spirit faves made it into the mix. (With such a fabulous talent pool of nominees to choose from, we're glad that ties were allowed.) Here are the highlights from the winner's list: