Pure World of Dance Season 1, Week 6 (Duels) – Power Rankings

So in what’s seemingly becoming a pattern – I apologize for the extreme tardiness of these rankings 😛 At least this time, I have a legitimate excuse – we were experiencing some pretty hefty technical difficulties this week, which have only recently gotten remedied. Thank god for bosses who know how to fix this stuff…thanks John!

This round of the power rankings is brought to you by this face, my favorite gif of the moment 😛 :

So this week wrapped up the duel round, and I gotta say – why the hell have they turned the last episode of each round into such a slapdash, gotta-fit-it-all-in-despite-taking-our-time-the-first-two-episodes pace? We’ve only got 4 episodes of this show left in the season, and there’s acts that we still know next to nothing about and have only seen tiny glimpses of, and the pacing of each of these third episodes of a round just leaves my head spinning.  Really hoping this was just a result of this being the rookie season of this show, and everything next season will be a lot better thought-out and more organized.

Another thing I’m hoping not to see next season? A bunch of previously-established acts with super-rabid fanbases that have a sense of entitlement about their faves. I’ve said it before, but I get the impression that certain acts may have been invited to do the show for the simple purpose of bringing along their previously-existing fanbases and hopefully boosting ratings for the show – I get that.  But at the same time, watching Jabbawockeez fans have an absolute MELTDOWN on Twitter and Ne-Yo (naively) trying to reason with them just gives me apoplexy. Oofdah. So let’s just leave it at “I get it, you needed to get viewers for the show.  Well now that you’ve got them and are guaranteed another season, maybe try turning your attention to fresh, new, undiscovered acts?”

So fifteen acts remain – five in each of the three divisions, and apparently that’s gonna get cut down by half in the next round…how? No idea 😛 But at this point, I think Kinjaz are the most likely to win the team division, now that Jabba is gone; The Lab, Diana Pombo, and Eva Igo will probably be duking it out for the junior division; and I’m not so sure now that Les Twins is gonna coast through and win the upper division spot in the finals – their appeal seems to be fading in the eyes of at least two judges, and I’m seeing more and more fans complaining online about how “overrated” they are. I’m not sure that it’s necessarily in the best interests of the show for these guys to win…but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen.  I’m thinking Mihacevich Sisters, Immabeast, Pasion, Chapkis, Super Cr3W, and Swing Latino are probably goners in this next round – I just don’t think they can hang. The rest is up in the air.

The duel winners:

1.) Kinjaz – I think Kinjaz came to play in a major way the other night, and offered up maybe the first performance I’ve seen this season that said “I deserve to win this!” Admittedly, I was left feeling a bit “meh” after their qualifier – was just a bit too subtle and calm to convince me they were contenders.  But I believe it now –  the creativity we saw with this routine and just all of the complex moving parts and tight synchronization was just mind-blowing. They’re cleaner and more in-sync than Super Cr3w, but their style is fresher and more unique than the Jabbawockeez. At this point in time, if they can maintain the momentum from this performance – they’re my pick to win the team division.

2.) Ian Eastwood & the Young Lions – They came into their duel pretty damn underdog-y – judges gave them a lukewarm reception in the qualifier and they got by with a mediocre score, and a stern warning to “step up their game”.  And that they did – I feel like they were the act in their duel that came out both the cleanest and the most creative, and they seemed to take a lot of the judges’ critiques to heart and even managed to throw in some humor (anyone catch the Michael Jackson crotch grab, a nod to J. Lo comparing Ian to MJ in the qualifier round? 🙂 ).  And once again, I just find myself really appreciating their musicality and intricate subtlety of their movements – they may not be acrobatically flipping around the stage or doing jaw-dropping strength moves, but the skill needed to do some of these tiny, isolated movements we see really takes skill. I think they’ve got a ways to go before they hit Kinjaz levels of creativity, but I was pleased with their performance.  I want to see more.

3.) Luka & Jenalyn – I really wish more folks could appreciate just how difficult the style they do is – and I wish the show (or Derek) would maybe go into a bit more detail explaining that CABARET BALLROOM IS ALL LIFTS. J. Lo complaining about wanting more dancing in between the lifts just shows me that she doesn’t really get what they do, and the number of middle-aged folk I saw complaining on Twitter about them “just doing a gymnastics routine – not a dance routine!” tells me that a good chunk of the audience doesn’t really get it, either. There’s not supposed to be a ton of dancing between the lifts – just enough transition steps to connect them together. But anyway – despite hating the song, I though they stepped up their game a bit more, and I’m still floored by how effortless they make those tricks look. Loved the balance trick at the end, and I found Luka to be a lot more at ease this time.

4.) Pasión – If you haven’t already, I highly recommend checking out their full duel performance here – because it’s pretty badass, if you’re a flamenco fan. I’m not sure how much further they’re going to get, because unless you know what you’re looking at, their style can look a bit simple. I know Derek gets it, and will probably be instrumental in getting them to the next round if they do end up moving on.  I just enjoyed it because of how different it was – not sure it’s a winning act, but it’s sure fun to watch.

5.) Chapkis Dance Family – Isn’t this the second time we’ve seen a truncated Chapkis routine on the show? I’m still not quite sure what to make of them, because I only really get to see bits & pieces of their performances – and I’ve gotta say, their routines strike me as a bit…busy.  Like there’s a lot going on, and it’s hard to appreciate everything because you’re kind of overstimulated. Given that we’ve only seen very abbreviated performances from them on the show, thought, I don’t know that they’re going to make it much further.

6.) Immabeast – Strikes me as The Lab Lite, as their styles are very similar but Immabeast seems to lack a bit of the focus and aggression of The Lab. So for that reason, I’m not really all that hot on them – The Lab does what they do, and they do it better.

7.) Mihacevich Sisters – Remember when I gushed about their performance in the qualifiers? And how the type of contemporary they do is the kind I like? Yeah, scratch that – that’s cancelled.  I almost felt like they saw flaily contemporary acts like Diana Pombo & Eva Igo getting rave reviews and were like “Crap, we need to flail!” and so they ditched the actual technique and connection to the dance and just chose an angsty Sia song (is there an unwritten rule that all contemporary acts must dance to a Sia song at least once?) to aimlessly do angsty stuff to. Sad, because they were my one hope for having a decent contemporary act on this season – and they seem to have gone over to the dark side. I think they should feel lucky that D’Angelo & Amanda appeared to have a really, really bad day at the office, because I think that’s the only reason they made it through – it’s not that Mihacevich Sisters were great, but that they just happened to suck less than D’Angelo & Amanda in this instance.

The duel losers:

1.) Jabbawockeez – Unpopular opinion (especially given the ridiculous hate I saw the judges and Ian Eastwood getting on Twitter): the Jabbawockeez didn’t deserve to win that duel.  It was close – but I felt like Jabba’s routine was a little on the safe side, while IEATYL took a bit more of a risk, and it paid off. I would even go so far as to say Jabba probably only did the show as a favor to the WOD team, in order to draw in viewers – I think they knew from the jump that they weren’t going to win, and they probably didn’t care, either.  I mentioned it before – Jabba has already “made it”: they won ABDC, they’ve done movies, they’ve done commercials, they’ve done Vegas.  They have absolutely nothing to prove, and they don’t need this show to further their careers. None of the guys looked very surprised or disappointed when it was announced that IEATYL had beaten them – I think they likely were in on the whole thing, anyway. I get the impression they’ve all gone back to their everyday lives and don’t care about the outcome of WOD – I would suggest their fans do the same.

2.) Stroll Groove – Another group I really appreciated for how different their style is – I’m glad we got a step group on the show this season, because their energy on stage is typically INSANE, and I love how much noise they make. I liked the song choice, too, because it was a bit unexpected; also loved that they entered the stage already dancing.  Just a really fun, entertaining act to watch – and they just suffered from having to go up against such a powerhouse act.

3.) D’Angelo & Amanda – I have to wonder just how badly D&A had to have screwed up in the portion of their routine that we DIDN’T see in order to warrant a score of 78.7 – the lowest score given in the duel round, if memory serves. Because I actually didn’t find them to be terrible in the part we did see – maybe a little less “snappy” and aggressive than usual, but there was still technique there and they were serving it. It looks like Amanda may have lost her balance on the pot stirrer move, and then it threw her off a bit and she missed a hand pass shortly thereafter. Which sucks, because she looked upset afterwards – and unfortunately, I think she was the weaker link in both their qualifier performance AND their duel performance. There’s kind of a strange difference in learning curve between boys & girls learning ballroom – in the beginning, the girls are usually pretty good right off the bat, and progress pretty quickly before plateauing at a certain point; the boys are much slower to progress, but once they do, they shoot past the girls and oftentimes end up outshining them. I think that’s maybe what happened here – I remember in their Live to Dance and AGT days, Amanda was really the star of the partnership, and seemed to be a lot more advanced in her technique than D’Angelo; nowadays, I think D’Angelo has really matured into a strong male lead, and Amanda has kinda hit a will in her progress – and like many of us ladies, Amanda seems to be dealing with some post-puberty body awkwardness, as she is a bit curvier than the wiry, uber-flexible girl we saw in years past. Anywho – just a bad day at the office for these two, I think, and I’m hoping we see them back next season; or perhaps as pros on Dancing with the Stars Junior next spring… 😉

4.) Rhythmatic – Just glad to see some other tappers on this season.  And I like to think them jumping off the stage and getting in Chapkis’ faces was retribution for Les Merdes Twins making fun of Kyle 😉

5.) DNA – Rule #1 of being a ballroom act being judged by Derek: bring your A-game, because he’s probably gonna be tougher on you than an act of a different style. Rule #2: DO NOT MAKE THE SAME MISTAKE TWICE. And DNA broke both rules 😛 They were warned about being sloppy before – and the slipup at the beginning where Denys fell and Antonina almost ran into him? Sloppy. When a mistake causes Derek to make a face that is gif-worthy, you know you’ve really gone and mucked it up. Once again, I feel like there was just TOO MUCH in this routine – they were trying to do Latin, while also trying to do lifts to prove they could hang with Luka & Jenalyn, and generally just coming across a bit too aggressive the whole routine…as Ne-Yo mentioned after their qualifier performance, I saw a bit too much effort, and thought they needed to appear more at ease. I liked it better than their qualifier performance though, and Antonina was giving me serious “young Shirley Ballas” vibes out there 🙂

6.) Mini Request – Another girl dance group, and I remember thinking they were coming across a bit too “cutesy” – were they the ones with the pink costumes? I usually find myself a bit irked when an all-female dance group seems to go out of its way to be feminine or wear pink or, in the case of the female DWTS pros, do only hair-flipping, sexpot, Beyonce-inspired moves.  These girls did more than that, but sometimes I wish girls wouldn’t get so caught up in emphasizing “Hey, we’re girls!!!” and would just show us their skills – part of the reason I wish The Posse had made it through: they didn’t seem overly concerned with being cutesy and feminine in their costuming or steps, and just let their talent shine through. It’s not as though the guy groups are going out of their way to wear flannel/grow beards/etc…they just dance.

7.) Rouge – This was the girl group in the 3-way duel, right? Yeah, knew they hadn’t a snowball’s chance in hell of winning right off the bat, given that we didn’t get to see them in the qualifier round. They were alright – kinda sloppy, which stuck out like a sore thumb next to Jabbawockeez and IEATYL.

8.) Kings Unite – I’m drawing a blank.  Did they have flashlights? Or were they one of the groups that had like, five bajillion people onstage? Either way – didn’t leave much of an impression on me, good or bad.

The duels themselves, ranked:

1.) Rouge vs. Jabbawockeez vs. Ian Eastwood and the Young Lions – While the concept of a three-way duel seems like a hurried, lazy idea to accommodate an odd number of acts in the team division, I do feel like the latter two came to play and put on a good show – and the fact that the outcome wasn’t what I expected was kinda nice, and seemed like a bit of vindication for the show dangling the carrot of Kyle possibly beating Les Twins.

2.) Luka & Jenalyn vs. DNA – Probably the most evenly-matched duel of the night, in terms of both skill and style. Both came to play – just sucks that DNA kinda FUBAR’d their chances within the first few bars of their routine.

3.) Kinjaz vs. Stroll Groove – Not really a fair fight, but I liked what both did and was entertained.

4.) Chapkis Dance Family vs. Rhythmatic – I liked the tappers.  Still kinda confused as to what exactly Chapkis does.

5.) Immabeast vs. Mini Request – Small snippet of two kid crews that we didn’t see in the qualifier round.  Meh.

6.) Pasión vs. Kings Unite – I can’t really remember the latter, and we only got to see a small snippet of the former, sans music. But I liked Pasión’s performance, so there’s that.

7.) D’Angelo & Amanda vs. Mihacevich Sisters – Just a bit of a sedate, bizarre non-event.  Both acts seemed unusually low-energy and a bit off their game.  Disappointing, considering I actually really liked both of them.

So how are you guys feeling, now that we’re more than halfway through the season? Who are your picks to win each division? Who do you think could win it all?