J. Lo's 'World of Dance' acts showcase strength and stamina to snag the $1 million prize
Perhaps you're just a pop-and-lock, kick-ball-change or grand jete away from winning $1 million. That is, if you're a team member on one of the 54 acts competing on Season 3 of "World of Dance," which premieres at 9 p.m. ET/PT Feb. 26 on NBC. (The show moves to its regular time slot on Sundays starting at 8 p.m. ET/PT March 3.)
"I'm excited that we're giving these gifted dancers and athletes an opportunity and platform to shine as brightly as they deserve," said Jennifer Lopez, who judges and executive produces the show.
What does a seven-figure-winning performance look like? Derek Hough -- a choreographer, dancer and actor -- provided insight.
"We score the acts using a precise point system developed by 'World of Dance,' using the following criteria: performance, technique, choreography, creativity and presentation," said Hough, who is a judge on the show alongside J. Lo and Grammy-winning singer/musician Ne-Yo. "I also look for the emotion and personality that the dancers are able to exude through the art of dance."
From Seoul to SoCal, the acts are from all over the globe and bring diverse expertise, dance styles and skill levels. For example, dance duo Julian and Charlize, both 17-year-old hip-hop performers, are already widely respected within the international dance community. Charlize danced during the Super Bowl XLIX Halftime show with Missy Elliott, and Julian performed on "Saturday Night Live" with Pharrell Williams.
"[Many of the] dancers have been training for most of their lives to refine their craft and build up their athletic strength and stamina," Hough said. For the "WOD" competition specifically, the dancers spend anywhere from eight to 12 hours per day preparing their routines leading up to a performance.
Each act -- ranging from solo performers to about NBA-roster-size lineups -- will appear before the judges in one of four age-based categories: Junior (9 to 17 years old, 1-4 dancers), Junior Team (9 to 17 years old, 5-15 dancers), Upper (16+ years old, 1-4 dancers) and Upper Team (16+ years old, 5-15 dancers).
The competition consists of five rounds: Qualifiers, The Duels, The Cut, Divisional Final and the World Final. In the first four rounds, dancers compete within their divisions, but in the World Final, the winner from each division competes against the other winners for the grand prize.
"This new season has some jaw-dropping performances, and we're seeing acts do stunts and moves that we've never seen before," Lopez said.
But it's not just about the moves. "If your intent is to tell a story, it's extremely important to blend perfectly from the technique to the music to the costumes to deliver a precisely executed routine that tells a story that the audience and we, as the judges, can really connect to," Hough said.
VPeepz, a 13-member squad from Manila, Philippines, who will be competing in the Junior Team division, are well-known for weaving in pop culture references and creating a cohesive story with their performance attire.
"The [acts] are world-class athletes and some of the best dancers in the world," Hough said. "We have dancers and dance teams this season representing styles from contemporary to hip-hop to ballroom and even waacking and bolly-hop."
The diversity of the styles of dance is also reflected in the judges. "We each bring something unique to the table," Hough said.
"From Jennifer's unparalleled experience as a professional dancer and all-around performer to Ne-Yo's background as a hip-hop dancer and artist to my extensive technical ballroom training and background in choreography, we are each approaching the judging table with a slightly different point of view, which is so important with a series like 'World of Dance' that brings in dancers from all over the world and features every dance style imaginable."
When asked who is the best dancer at the judge's table, Hough said, "If I must choose ... me!"