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Photo by Andrew Eccles, courtesy of NBC Universal

If she's not already on your radar, up-and-coming contemporary ballet dancer Kayla Mak should be. The 16-year-old has trained from the age of 3 at Westchester Dance Academy in Westchester, New York, under the direction of Kelly Burke (Dance Teacher, October 2015). Of late, Mak has been stunning audiences on Season 3 of NBC's "World of Dance." "The exposure on this show is so great," she says. "I'm so excited to open the door a bit wider for contemporary ballet and television."

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Dance Teacher Tips
Sam Williams and Jaxon Willard after competition at RADIX. Photo courtesy of Williams

Self-choreographed solos are becoming increasingly popular on the competition circuit these days, leading dance teachers to incorporate more creative mentoring into their rehearsal and class schedules. In this new world of developing both technical training and choreographic prowess, finding the right balance of assisting without totally hijacking a student's choreographic process can be difficult.

To help, we caught up with a teacher who's already braved these waters by assisting "World of Dance" phenom Jaxon Willard with his viral audition solos. Center Stage Performing Arts Studio company director Sam Williams from Orem, Utah, shares her sage wisdom below.

Check it out!

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Site Network
Season 3 contestant Kayla Mak (Andrew Eccles/NBCUniversal)

NBC's "World of Dance" is officially back! Over the last two seasons, the show has exploded in popularity, and it's easy to see why: The contestants truly are in a league of their own. No matter their genre, every dancer that takes the "WOD" stage gives it their all.

But what exactly is it like to be up there, surrounded by all the bright lights and cheering fans—and watched by not only J.Lo, Ne-Yo, and Derek, but also millions of viewers? To find out, we spoke with Briar Nolet, Kayla Mak, Lauren Yakima, and Derek Piquette, all of whom are competing this season for the (very casual) $1 million grand prize. Here's what they had to say about the lessons they learned, people they met, and experiences they had on the "WOD" set.

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Dance News
Charity and Andres scored the show's first-ever perfect score! (via YouTube)

Guys, we gotta say it. Although the competition gets SUPER FIERCE, we really really really love The Duels. Why? Because we get to see all of our favorites from earlier in the season perform their hearts out again! Last night's episode of "World of Dance" gave us just that. And while we did lose some greats (😢), the dancing was beyond incredible. It was the Juniors, though, that really shined. Here are our highlights.

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Dance News

The bar has been raised as "World of Dance" moves to the next round: the Duels. And with over 60 acts of talented dancers advancing to this round, some serious dancing will go down before we can begin to contemplate who the winner might be. Though the Qualifiers were a great introduction to talented new faces, let's face it, the intensity of challenging and competing against a specific dance act makes the Duels one of the most exciting and intense parts of "WOD." This is where we begin to see what these dancers are really made of. Here are some of the highlights from last night's sensational performances.

The Fabulous Sisters vs Rascals

These two dance groups were some of the most memorable in the qualifying rounds, so it was thrilling to watch them go to head to head in what seems like a perfect match. The Rascals brought all the swag and some serious attitude to the dance floor, but it was the fierce, syncopated performance of the Fabulous Sisters that won the judges' hearts. In fact Ne-Yo even went as far as to call their dance "art in motion." The Fabulous Sisters moved forward with an overall score of 95.7 while the Rascals were cut with an overall score of 94.3.


Luka & Jenalyn vs Karen Y Ricardo

These ballroom dancers gave us quite the show as they tried to one-up each other in hopes of making it to the next round. Watching Karen y Ricardo throw down the gauntlet was truly a highlight of the night. The control with which they executed their tricks brought the judges to their feet in a standing ovation. Derek even commented on how easy they made everything look. But Luka & Jenalyn were formidable dance opponents. Jenalyn started the performance in a straitjacket, ironically making us question her sanity as she did some intense partnering, threading her limbs through partner Luka's positions. Though Luka & Jenalyn did step up their game with an overall score of 92.3, their execution wasn't quite clean enough to beat Karen y Ricardo, who were rewarded an impressive overall score of 98.3.



Avery & Marcus vs Eva Igo

This Duel was the most dramatic of the night, with fan favorite Eva Igo returning to the stage to duel contemporary ballet duo Avery & Marcus. Tbh both performances were insane in the best way possible and I don't even know how the judges determined who would be eliminated. True to her reputation, Eva projected all the feels during her beautiful contemporary number. But the judges felt like they'd seen this side of her before and expected to see more from someone who holds the Junior Division Champion title of last year's season. Avery & Marcus responded with a breathtaking acrobatic ballet routine featuring some seriously innovative choreography. The biggest shock of the season came when Avery & Marcus advanced to the next round with an overall score of 93.3, while Eva received a 92. We have to admit we definitely didn't see that one coming.

Dance News
The Desi Hoppers are pure entertainment, photo courtesy of NBC

"World of Dance" is back for Season 2, and it already has us on our feet. The talent is next-level, the stories are emotional and J.Lo's hoop earrings could double as real-life hula hoops (Yassss queen 😍). Summer is upon us, and we are absolutely LIVING for this show, guys!

In case you missed the premiere, or you just loved it so much you want to relive the dance magic again with us, here are three standout performances from last night that we can't get over.

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