"World of Dance" Week 15 Recap: Divisional Finals

We're only a week away from finding out who will be the champion of "World of Dance." But we're getting ahead of ourselves because this week's episode was lit. With the help of guest judge and all-around-wonder-woman Misty Copeland, the field of talented dance acts was narrowed from 12 to four. Read on to find out which acts won their division and who will be competing in the World Final next week.


Junior Division: Charity & Andres

Charity and Andres always put on a show, but last night they showed us why they've made it this far—because they're dedicated. Despite a broken toe, Charity performed aerial tricks and jumps as if nothing was wrong. "As dancers, so much of our balance and groundedness comes from our feet, so the fact you could do that with a broken toe, just demonstrates what a powerful dancer you are," Misty observed. And Andres got to shine as he pulled off some of the most impressive tricks we've seen him perform yet. Their overall score of 93 earned them the Junior Division Winners and lands them a spot in the World Final.


Junior Team: The Lab

Between The Fabulous Sisters' fierce urban dance performance, The Rock Company's dramatic contemporary number, and The Lab's high-energy hip hop piece, it was truly difficult to decide who should represent the Junior Team division. But The Lab's precise execution, choreography, creativity, and passion ultimately blew the judges away—so much so that Ne-Yo ran onto the stage jumping up and down. J. Lo said she "loved every disruptive minute" of their piece and that every single one of them deserved to be there. The team received a near perfect overall score and the highest of the night with a 99.8.


Upper Division: Michael Dameski

Karen y Ricardo and Ashley and Zack both gave rousing performances, but ultimately it was Michael Dameski's ninja-style contemporary piece that stole the show and the Upper Division title. The perfectly executed routine was explosive, with the added element of raw emotion, which brought a whole other dimension to Dameski's dancing. He earned his 97.8 overall score fair and square, and has us wondering if he might be the final champion.


Upper Team: S-Rank

Between Poreotics, The Ruggeds, and S-Rank it was hard to tell who would take the title as Upper Team Champion. But S-Rank's space-themed performance was out of this world. The whole group was completely in-sync and performed with a remarkable amount of control. "That got me feeling everything... I love you guys," Misty told the hip-hop crew. Honestly, same. And if love from the dance-goddess herself wasn't enough, S-Rank won the Upper Team Division title with an overall score of 94.

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Ashton Edwards Is Breaking Down Gender Barriers in Ballet

When Ashton Edwards was 3 years old, the Edwards family went to see a holiday production of The Nutcracker in their hometown, Flint, MI.

For the young child, it was love at first sight.

"I saw a beautiful, black Clara," Ashton says, "and I wanted to be just like her."

Ashton has dedicated 14 years of ballet training in pursuit of that childhood dream. But all the technical prowess in the world can't help Ashton surmount the biggest hurdle—this aspiring dancer was assigned male at birth, and for the vast majority of boys and men, performing in pointe shoes hasn't been a career option. But Ashton Edwards, who uses the pronouns "he" and "they," says it's high time to break down ballet's gender barrier, and their teachers and mentors believe this passionate dancer is just the person to lead the charge.

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In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, a group of about two dozen dancers got the rare opportunity to work on an upcoming Apple TV+ series—one devoted entirely to celebrating, and spoofing, classic 1940s and '50s musicals from the Great White Way and Hollywood. "Schmigadoon!", which premiered on AppleTV+ July 16, stars Cecily Strong and Keegan-Michael Key, who get stuck inside a musical and must find true love in order to leave. The show features a star-studded Broadway cast, including Aaron Tveit, Ariana DeBose, Kristin Chenoweth, Alan Cumming, Jane Krakowski and Dove Cameron, and is chock-full of dancing courtesy of series choreographer, Christopher Gattelli.

"The adrenaline was pretty exciting, being able to create during the pandemic," says Gattelli. "I felt like we were representing all performers at that point. There were so many who wanted to be working during the pandemic, so I really tried to embrace this opportunity for all of them."

Gattelli says it was a dream come true to pay tribute to the dance geniuses that preceded him, like Michael Kidd, Agnes de Mille, Onna White and Jerome Robbins, in his choreography. Each number shows off a "little dusting" of their work.

Dance Spirit spoke with Gattelli about all the triumphs and tribulations of choreographing in a pandemic, and got an inside look at specific homages to look out for.

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Walk into any dance convention, audition or class, and you'll see a vast variety of dance bags lining the walls. But can the style of bag you use (and how you wear it) have an impact on your dancing?

Don't worry—you won't have to shoulder the load alone. Dance Spirit spoke with two physical therapists who specialize in working with dancers to find out what dance bag is best.

What should dancers look for in a dance bag?

Dr. Meghan Gearhart, physical therapist and owner of Head2Toe Physical Therapy in Charlotte, NC, recommends dancers opt for a backpack-style dance bag rather than a duffel or cross-body bag.

"A bag that pulls the weight all to one side creates a side bend and rotation in the trunk," Gearhart says. "That is going to lead to muscle imbalances that will affect dancers while they're dancing, as well as just in regular everyday life." Muscle imbalances can mean limited mobility on one side of your body, as the muscles on one side are overly contracted and the other side is overly extended to compensate.

Gearhart suggests dancers pick a backpack made from a lightweight yet durable and breathable material, such as cotton, linen, nylon or polyester. Straps should be wide enough to not dig into your shoulder muscles, so avoid drawstring styles with rope straps. Adjustable and padded straps are best, so you can wear the straps at a length where the bag rests at the middle of your back.

Dr. Bridget Kelly Sinha, physical therapist and founder of Balanced Physical Therapy and Dance Wellness in Matthews, NC, emphasizes the importance of finding an even weight distribution when choosing a dance bag.

"If a dancer has a lot to bring, like when heading to the theater for a full day of rehearsals and performances, then I recommend a rolling suitcase to offset the load," Sinha says.

How should dancers wear their bags?

Even if you've selected the perfect dance bag, it's important to be mindful of how you wear it.

Gearhart advocates wearing both straps when carrying your backpack. She also suggests placing heavier items towards the back of the bag, where they will sit closer to your body. A bag with straps that are too loose (or a bag that is too heavy) can create an increased arch in the lower back or cause a dancer to compensate for the weight by leaning forward. Ideally, Gearhart recommends a dancer's dance bag weighing no more than 10 to 15 percent of their body weight.

"I usually tell dancers to use their common sense. If you don't have tap today, you don't need to bring the tap shoes," she says. "If your water bottle makes the bag too heavy, just carry it." If your studio offers lockers, take advantage of that storage space to lessen the number of clothes, shoes, and dance accessories that live in your dance bag.

And if you think your bad dance-bag habits have given you alignment issues, seek out a dance physical therapist to prevent further injuries.

"As a dancer, your body is working so hard all day," Sinha says. "It does not need excess strain from your bag."

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