The ever-gorgeous Kayla Mak (Jordin Althaus/NBC)

“World of Dance” Week 9 Recap: Cut to the Feeling

"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.


Junior Division

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.

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A Letter from the Editor in Chief

Hi, dance friends. It is a strange time to be a person in the world, and an especially strange time to be a dancer. As the dance community faces the coronavirus crisis, a lot of you are coping with closed studios, canceled performances and competitions, and a general sense of anxiety about how your world will look going forward.

Yes, dancers are super resilient, and there's been a lot of inspiring community-building happening. #LivingRoomDances and Instagram dance parties and virtual ballet classes with the pros are wonderful. Dance can, and should, be a bright spot in the darkness. But that weird, empty feeling you have? It might be grief. The loss of the certainty of daily class, the loss of the promise of that big end-of-year performance—that's real. The dance studio has always been a safe place; it's especially hard not to have that outlet now, when you need it most.

We're here for you. We—and our friends at Dance Magazine, Pointe, Dance Teacher, The Dance Edit, and Dance Business Weekly—are doing our best to document the hurdles facing the dance industry, and to advocate for dancers in need. We're developing more online content that will help you maintain and improve your technique while you're at home, and process the mental and emotional fallout of all this upheaval. (You can keep up with the latest stories here.) And we're still making our print magazine. We have issues planned and shot, full of great dance stories and beautiful photos. We're not going anywhere.

We want to hear from you. Talk to us. Or dance to us. Or both. We won't stop moving, and you shouldn't, either.

Margaret

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