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"World of Dance" Week 8 Recap: The Duels Begin

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.

Teaching Tips
A 2019 Dancewave training. Photo by Effy Grey, courtesy Dancewave

By now, most dance educators hopefully understand that they have a responsibility to address racism in the studio. But knowing that you need to be actively cultivating racial equity isn't the same thing as knowing how to do so.

Of course, there's no easy answer, and no perfect approach. As social justice advocate David King emphasized at a recent interactive webinar, "Cultivating Racial Equity in the Classroom," this work is never-ending. The event, hosted by Dancewave (which just launched a new racial-equity curriculum) was a good starting point, though, and offered some helpful takeaways for dance educators committed to racial justice.

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Higher Ed
The author, Robyn Watson. Photo courtesy Watson

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According to onstageblog.com, out of the 30 top-ranked college dance programs in the U.S., tap dance is offered at 19 of them, but only one school requires majors to take more than a beginner course—Oklahoma City University. Many prestigious dance programs, like the ones at NYU Tisch School of the Arts and SUNY Purchase, don't offer a single course in tap dance.

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After months of lockdowns and virtual learning, many studios across the country are opening their doors and returning to in-person classes. Teachers and students alike have likely been chomping at the bit in anticipation of the return of dance-class normalcy that doesn't require a reliable internet connection or converting your living room into a dance space.

But along with the back-to-school excitement, dancers might be feeling rusty from being away from the studio for so long. A loss of flexibility, strength and stamina is to be expected, not to mention emotional fatigue from all of the uncertainty and reacclimating to social activities.

So as much as everyone wants to get back to normal—teachers and studio owners included—erring on the side of caution with your dancers' training will be the most beneficial approach in the long run.

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