Amanda's Analysis · Dance

Dance Spotlight: Favorite Dances from World of Dance Season Two

This past summer, NBC aired the second season of World of Dance, a reality competition show where dancers of all ages compete for a $1 million prize. If you follow our Twitter, you’ve probably seen some (or a lot) of my tweets about the show as I live tweeted the show all summer long. Last Wednesday was the season finale where junior hip-hop team The Lab was crowned the winner. Now that the season’s ended, I’m sharing my 15 favorite dances from season two.

With nearly 65 acts competing this season and hundreds of dances, it was very difficult to narrow it down to just 15. It was so hard that I had to throw in an honorable mentions section! So many talented dancers competed this season, but some performances stood out more easily and were simply more memorable. I tried to pick a variety of acts and genres, but I do admit I’m more partial to contemporary and had some easy, automatic favorites when it came to dancers. Regardless, the second season of WOD was awesome, and I can’t wait for next summer for season three.

Silence – Sean and Kaycee

Before this dance starts, Ne-Yo says “This is either going to be really good or really bad,” because Sean and Kaycee do this dance mostly blindfolded, and he was right. It ended up being really good! Despite being teenagers, Sean and Kaycee are so talented and excelled with this unique, difficult concept of dancing blindfolded. Sean is such a great choreographer, and they do so so well with the subtle, smaller movements he choreographs in many of their routines, but this one especially. This was a fantastic way for them to start the competition.

Beethoven Scherzo – Fabulous Sisters

The first dance from this Japanese team was definitely one to remember. It was unlike anything that had been on the World of Dance stage before, and it was unlike any dance I’d seen before anywhere. The routine is so theatrical, dramatic, and intense. The choreography is insane and goes along with the music perfectly. The Fabulous Sisters’ moves are all so synchronized and sharp. There isn’t a single moment where it lags. This dance is true performance, and I need them to be part of the Olympic opening ceremonies in Tokyo 2020.

Mercy – Michael Dameski

One of Australia’s favorite dancers (he won So You Think You Can Dance Australia) got a standing ovation for this first performance for a reason. For his WOD debut, Dameski showed off what he does best and included that in this routine. He has excellent technique and beautiful form. He has power and tumbling to rival that of an elite gymnast. He has an unmatched ability to choreograph with the music perfectly. He has the ability to connect with an audience and use his emotions while performing. Though I’d seen him dance before on SYTYCD and in Newsies and YouTube dance class videos before, this dance is what made me love him and his dancing.

Hanging On – Michael Dameski

Dameski’s second dance got another well-deserved standing ovation from the judges. In addition to showing his great technique and powerful moves, he added a stronger story to this routine, which was also just more dynamic overall. It was a more aggressive contemporary piece to contrast with his more lyrical dance in the first round. However, it still had softer moments to match with the music, like my personal favorite part at 1:01 where he’s trying to hang on. That choreography syncs up with the music so well. It’s so satisfying.

Santa Maria – Jonas and Ruby

The Argentine Tango is such a sophisticated and intricate dance, but Jonas and Ruby make you forget they’re just teenagers when performing their Argentine Tango. I remember watching Ruby in season 13 of So You Think You Can Dance when she was just 12 or 13, and her Argentine Tango on that show was memorable not only because she excelled at it but because the story of it made you remember that she’s not a seasoned ballroom professional, that she still has a ways to go in learning the Argentine Tango. In comparison to that one, it’s clear that she has grown so much as a dancer. Their footwork and leg flicks were nice and clean, and the costume changes were so fun to see! While costume changes like those could have slowed the dance and ruined the rhythm of the whole thing, that wasn’t the case here.

Way Down We Go – Charity and Andres

Charity and Andres’s dance from The Duels got a perfect score — the first ever, in fact — for a reason. This routine was ridiculously amazing. The audience was hooked from the first flip. All of the choreography looked effortless, even the parts where it was supposed to look like Andres was making Charity do stuff. This dance had everything, from gorgeous form and technique to show-stopping tricks and stunts to an emotional story. And none of it was overdone. The choreography didn’t take away from the story, and the story didn’t take anything away from the dance as a whole. Charity and Andres achieved a nice balance of everything the judges look for in a dance. And just when you think it’s over, it’s not.

Pray – Embodiment

I like to think of Embodiment as an army of dancers, because that’s exactly what they look like when they perform. They are such strong and beautiful dancers who work together wonderfully as a unit. Embodiment brings the perfect balance of strength and grace into every powerful dance they do without losing their form or synchronicity. I especially loved this dance of theirs because of the story involving Rudy and his dad, how well they used the entire stage, and all the different formations.

Cold Water – The Lab

Of all of the winning act’s routines from this season (and last season), this is one of the most memorable and most powerful performances they’ve done. First of all, you know it’s a good dance when nearly everyone is crying afterwards! Any dance that can move people — audience, judges, participants, everyone — to tears is a standout. The story is the core of this dance, and that is evident all the way through. It allowed for The Lab to have a rare sense of vulnerability in their performance, which is great. It showed that The Lab isn’t just a group of hard-hitting hip-hoppers. This was the first performance they did where I saw what they were truly capable of. The Lab was able to combine that emotional story with the moves they’re known for and spread a message we, at The Twin Trio, are big advocates of: the importance of finding people you can be honest and vulnerable with. Finding those people will make life better.

Lay Me Down – Michael Dameski

Ugh. He’s just so good. Honestly, that’s what I say 99 percent of the time after I watch him dance, but it’s true. He’s just SO GOOD. He’s the complete package when it comes to a dancer. Once again, Dameski wowed us with his acrobatic choreography and impeccable form, but what made this dance stand out from his previous two were the emotion and vulnerability. At this point in the competition (about halfway), he hadn’t been this vulnerable in showing his emotion. This dance was about missing his grandparents in Australia, who were a huge part of his childhood and helped raise him. Now living in the U.S. to follow his dreams, he misses them and wishes he could be with them. Many feelings are involved when it comes to missing people, including sadness, anger, and frustration — all of which were portrayed with his facial expressions and his choreography in this piece. Also, can we talk about the roundoff Onodi at 1:09? Who does that?! Gymnasts don’t even do that!

Can I Be Him – Sean and Kaycee

Because Sean and Kaycee rose to dance world fame by starring in hip-hop class videos as kids, it’s awesome to see how much they’ve grown as dancers, and this dance is just one example of that. Simply put, this routine is beautiful. I am so not used to seeing Kaycee in a dress, but this lyrical hip-hop fusion is just so wonderful to watch. They just work so well together, and the chemistry is there to make the performance believable. It also just demonstrates their versatility because their previous dance right before this one was a pretty raw and aggressive hip-hop. Like if you had only seen them do straight-up hip-hop, you would have been shocked when they did the turning leaps at 0:49.

Higher – Jaxon Willard

Jaxon Willard was a standout junior dancer from the start, but it wasn’t until this performance that he had a breakthrough. For the first half of the competition, the audience saw him as a superb technical dancer with the great ability to be vulnerable and show emotion. He demonstrated and talked about his insecurity, which allowed him to connect with the audience. However, there was something lacking for the first few performances, and that was confidence. In this piece, he finally performed with a new mindset. We could see him beginning to be less insecure. It was beautiful to see Willard grow in not only his dancing but his mindset and as a person, because he deserves to know and see that he is amazing for who he is, and I hope he continues to become more comfortable in his own skin.

Madness – Michael Dameski

Well if you haven’t realized or figured it out by now, Michael Dameski is my favorite. I love all of his routines so much that I couldn’t leave one out of this list. And I most definitely could not exclude this masterpiece. He may not be an actual ninja, but he is an insanely talented dance ninja warrior fighting for that divisional title here! This is the most theatrical and dramatic routine he’s done on WOD. It is a true performance — it’s a show! He executes such well controlled movements in this piece, from the back handspring to half turn sit at 0:19 to the split holds and moves at 0:29. Dameski makes everything he does here look easy, as if jumping and leaping with insane height is effortless. Plus, he goes full out with his character and story with the costume and facial expressions. The striking ending at 1:14 is just jaw-dropping and the perfect way to end the routine.

Dive – Michael Dameski

I would just like to start off by thanking Jenna Dewan for choosing this song for Michael because I love this dance so much. I am so glad she chose this because he totally slayed this and choreographed a gorgeous routine to this Ed Sheeran song. I’ve watched this dance at least 10 times and have definitely cried after watching it because he performs this so well that he gives you all the feels and makes you feel heartbroken too. (Or I could just be sad because someone broke his heart, and that hurts me, because I love him. No. It’s both, definitely both.)

Anyway, while this sort of song with its vibe isn’t new — we’ve seen him dance to Sam Smith and Shawn Mendes, who are both similar artists, this very obvious storytelling routine is. In this dance, it’s very clear what the story is and what’s going on. This wasn’t like dancing to Sam Smith and portraying what it is to miss someone. This was someone gave me a note and broke my heart. It’s also the first time Dameski’s used a little prop (even if it was just a piece of paper), but it was so necessary and really made the performance that much better. I mean, who didn’t feel something when he ripped that paper and then tried to find both pieces at the end? Also, the choreography starting at 0:20 where he’s holding the paper to his chest are so smooth! He’s never been so suave, and I was honestly the heart eyes emoji during that. And his leaps and jumps make him seem weightless, and it’s just beautiful. I could go on and on about this dance, like when he slides on his knees or his fouette turns, but I think we get the picture. I love it.

Survivor – Michael Dameski

I will admit that when I first watched this, I wasn’t too sure about it. I honestly thought, “That’s it?” when it ended. But after watching it a few more times, I ended up liking it more and more each time and definitely appreciate the artistic creativity he put into this final routine. Throughout the competition, regardless of whatever story he was telling, he relied a lot on his technique, and acrobatic skills. He competed as the contemporary soloist with the perfect form and dynamic tumbling. When it came to his final routine, the one that would determine whether he won $1 million, he switched it up and showed the world he is not just a beautiful technical dancer. He is a performer. Yes, the straddle leap and turns at the top of the pyramid prop were great. But the swinging on the front of the pyramid, the twirling of the staff, the animalistic and warrior-like movements, that’s what made this dance awesome and memorable. Maybe it was a risk, but it paid off — even if he didn’t win. Dameski showed everything he had to offer as a dancer, performer, and artist by ending with this piece, and that’s a great accomplishment.

Waiting on the World to Change – The Lab

If you watched the show, you know this is the routine that gave The Lab the win. If you didn’t, well, now you know. Now I’ve seen a lot of negative comments about this routine giving The Lab the win and just The Lab and this routine in general. It’s no secret I wanted Michael Dameski to win. But I am not angry The Lab won over him. I am not angry this routine is what gave them the win. Some people have said the dancing isn’t what made the judges score this the way they did. “The Lab used emotions to win, not dancing.” “That wasn’t dancing. Michael and Charity and Andres should have been top two.” BLAH BLAH BLAH. We’re all entitled to our own opinions, but let’s not get negative because of this dance, this group of kids — this positive, powerful dance and this wonderful, talented group of kids.

Dancing to a John Mayer song definitely isn’t what anyone who watched The Lab all season (or at all) expected. It was risky to switch it up last minute, but that’s what Michael did, too. And it paid off for The Lab, too. A lyrical hip-hop group routine like this had not been seen all season long. By doing this routine and spreading a positive message along with it. The Lab showed they are more that a group of kid dancers who get down and dirty and hit it hard. In terms of emotion and storytelling, this was a simply beautiful and creative way to get those valuable presentation points. Presentation counts for a fifth of the total score on WOD. It includes crowd appeal and impact. The Lab nailed it on the head with this routine!

Honorable Mentions:

Bellyache – Josh and Taylor
I Ran (So Far Away) – Eva Igo
Believer – Embodiment
Say Something – Expressenz
Praying – Eva Igo
Now or Never – Avery and Marcus
Make Me (Cry) – MarInspired
Animals – Jonas and Ruby
Blind Faith – Jaxon Willard


Image via NBC.

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