Pure World of Dance, Season 2, Week 1 (Qualifiers) – Court’s Thoughts: The Good, The Bad, & the WTF???

I apologize for the tardiness of this breakdown – my life has gotten a tad crazy as of late, with going back to school (while still working full time), helping my sister plan her wedding (I’m flying out to Denver early Saturday morning to go dress shopping with her), and doing side gigs (freelance makeup artistry, baking).  Additionally, I’ll admit I wasn’t quite sure how to approach this post after last season – doing a “power rankings” like I do over at PureDWTS doesn’t really work for the format of this show, as each act is really only competing with those in their division (and we only see 1 or 2 acts from each division each week); and I wanted to do something different than what Heidi does with the live blog.  So I came up with this format: basically giving each act it’s own description/award based on how I felt. I will try to get this posted the morning after each show (so Wed mornings), but I reserve the right for them to be a bit tardy as I am now in my 30s and need my sleep a lot more than I did when I was in my 20s 😛 Let me know what you guys think, or if you have any other suggestions for the format!

The Ones to Beat: Karen y Ricardo. Unless there’s some dynamite dance crew or a phenomenal soloist waiting in the wings, I think these two are going to be the last ones standing in season 2. They’re everything I loved about Swing Latino last season (the crazy tricks, the creative choreo, and the seamless transitions), but without all the distractions & limitations of having so many people on the stage – it gave me more of a chance to appreciate just how amazing everything was that they were doing, and also put more of an emphasis on their chemistry as a couple. I’m pretty excited to see what else they can do, and they’re my pick for the upper division so far.

The Ones I Was Unsure About At First, But Warmed Up to Later: Desi Hoppers. I’ll admit, upon my first watching, I thought these guys were a tad hokey – keep in mind that I was also trying to keep track of the music from that episode, though, so I was a bit distracted. The whole fusion of Bollywood to hip-hop seemed like a bit of an afterthought, and I was left wondering if they would be able to compete with the high athleticism of some of the other hip-hop crews (Super Cr3w from last season comes to mind). But I did go back and watch them again (this time paying much better attention), and found that their choreography was much more creative than I originally thought – and they do seem to be pretty athletic, so they’ve got that working in their favor, and they had a bit of a sense of humor in their performance. I’m still curious as to how they’re going to fare up against a pure hip-hop crew, but they could have some longevity in this competition.

The Ones That Were Good, But with an Asterisk*: Sean & Kaycee. They were fantastic, but here’s what gives me pause: I think he’s the real genius in that pairing, and Kaycee is just…there.  I don’t get the same vibe from them that I got from Keone & Mari last season – everything the latter did felt like a genuine collaboration, with great, synergistic chemistry; with Sean & Kaycee, I feel like he’s the one driving the bus (very well, I might add), but Kaycee’s just along for the ride. She’s not a bad dancer – I just don’t feel like her dancing is as inspired as Sean’s, which I guess makes sense because Sean’s actually dancing his own choreography, as opposed to someone else’s.  But man – that guy has a bright future as a choreographer, with as good as he already is at this young age.

The “Plant”: Hilty & Bosch. I like to think of these two as somewhat similar to Jabbawockeez last season: I don’t think they were there to do much more than fill in the requisite “dance legend” slot, just so WOD can say “Our competition is so big, we even get legendary poppers coming to try out!” If I had to guess, I think WOD probably reached out to them and extended the invitation for them to come try out, but I don’t think anyone (particularly Hilty & Bosch themselves) actually expected them go anywhere beyond the first round. And like Jabbawockeez, who were eliminated surprisingly early last season, I don’t think these guys really needed to prove anything – so this felt more like a fun, exhibition performance.  I was entertained, but the level of difficulty wasn’t there – but I also wasn’t really expecting there to be anything wildly impressive, so I was content with it.

The Underrated Ones: S-Rank. I was lightweight surprised that these guys didn’t score better than they did – I thought their choreo was impressively clean and in-sync. Plus their performance had a certain swag & sense of humor about it, which I was really entertained by. I’m wondering if they didn’t resonate quite as well with the judges because their performance was more “cool” and less in-your-face-energetic or unique – but I’m intrigued to see what else we get out of them, because the skill level is there.

WTF Did I Just Watch?!: Flip. I guess this is what it looks like when a garden-variety dance studio that primarily teaches jazz, tap, & some ballet/character tries to go outside its comfort zone and do something “edgy” to try and get on a reality show. I agree with whichever judge made a comment about the music not feeling compatible with the dancing – they were doing a bunch of high-energy waacking to a slow, sultry song…and can we please retire “Feelin’ Good” from the musical repertoire of the current prime-time dance competition shows? So, SO overdone at this point. The costumes felt a bit juvenile to me, too – like they, too, didn’t really fit the feel of the dance or the music, and the whole thing felt like a disjointed mess.  I’m honestly kind of shocked that they made it through – given that they weren’t even given a full-length intro, though, I’m guessing we seem them ousted in the duels.

The One I’m On the Fence About: Jaxon Willard. Admittedly, I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with contemporary, so I’m copping to that right off the bat – and the struggle I’m having with Jaxon is that, while he is a PHENOMENAL dancer and athlete, I feel like he may be prone to reverting to the characteristic flailing & heavy reliance on gymnastics/acrobatic moves I see from so many contemporary dancers in this setting. I had the same problems with Eva Igo and Diana Pombo last season – both seemed to rely too heavily on flips, leaps, flails, and displays of flexibility, as opposed to doing more creative choreography. I chalked those ladies’ shortcomings up to their choreographer, but in this instance, we know for a fact that Jaxon is doing his own choreography – so I’m hoping he gets creative with his choreography, and doesn’t just flip and flail around the stage in angst each week, because he is seriously amazing.

Wardrobe Props: J-Lo’s top. The sequins and ruffles would probably look ridiculous on just about anyone else, but they looked both chic & fun on her.  Makeup was on-point as well.

Wise Dad Award: Ne-Yo, for always seeming to have the perfect fatherly advice to impart upon the contestants.  Last year’s gem was “There is no ‘lose’ – you win or you learn!”; this time it’s “If you’re happy, smile; if you’re sad, cry – because both make you a real man.” I know there was some heavy skepticism when he was first announced as a judge, but man – he has more than earned his spot for me.

So who were your early favorites? Any contenders so far?