Did Project 21 do enough to earn a spot in the Duels? (Trae Patton/NBC)

"World of Dance" Week 5 Recap: Who'll Be Dueling?

The pressure is always on in the "World of Dance" universe—you're always performing for J.Lo, Ne-Yo, and Derek Hough (not to mention a national television audience), after all—but last night's episode felt especially high-stakes. For the first time, the show added a Callbacks round, an in-between moment to reevaluate 10 acts that impressed during the Qualifiers, but not quite enough to advance automatically to the Duels. And with only four Duels spots left to fill, every act was eager to prove that it had an edge on the other Callbacks contestants.

So, who made it through last night? (And how did our current cover stars, the fabulous dancers of Project 21, fare?) Here are the four acts that'll be coming back for another round:


The Young Cast

The Junior Division hip-hop crew was the last to perform last night, but the first to discover it'd earned a place in the Duels. Not a surprise, given the judges' enthusiastic response to its super-clean, super-intricate routine, which had a standout opening.

305

We are always here for a strong Latin ballroom team, and last night, the Junior Division dancers of Miami-based 305 had Derek on his feet. They leveled up from their Qualifiers performance, with more compelling choreography and more precise execution—enough to put them through to the next round.

The Rise

This Upper Division hip-hop group from Arizona was the first to dance last night, performing a suave routine to Usher's "OMG." While the number felt a tad low-energy, the crew's charisma and polish ultimately earned them a spot in the Duels.

GRVMNT

These Junior Division hip-hop dancers seemed like underdogs based on their Qualifiers performance—but their intro package showed just how hard they've been working since then. And while we will never hear Lil Jon's "Outta Your Mind" and not think of this, GRVMNT's scrappy, in-the-pocket routine to the song last night almost made us forget all about Alex Wong and tWitch's famous therapy session. We're excited to see this team continue to grow in the Duels.

We try to remain impartial when it comes to TV dance competitions, but we were sad to see Project 21's "WOD" run come to an end last night, especially since the limited glimpses we got of their chair-oriented routine looked pretty impressive. We'll miss you, P21!

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Photo by Lindsay Thomas

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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All the Hollywood and Broadway Musical Moments to Look for in “Schmigadoon!”

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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Shouldering the Load: What kind of dance bag should dancers use?

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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