Did World of Dance Put Its Best Foot Forward With NBC Debut?

World of Dance Renewed

NBC began exploring the World of Dance on Tuesday night, with the premiere of its J.Lo-hosted competition series. Did it fill the old-school So You Think You Can Dance-sized hole in your heart?

The set-up was straight-forward enough, straight out of Reality-TV 101: After a flurry of backstage rehearsal/warm-up footage, we learn a little bit (or frankly, too much, time-wise) about the act about to hit the stage. Competitors are divided into three divisions: Junior (any size act, age 17 and under), Upper (groups of 1 to 4, age 18+) and Team (groups of 5 or more, age 18+). The competition consists of five rounds: Qualifiers, Duels, The Cut, Divisional Final and the World Final. In the first four rounds, dancers only compete within their division, but in the World Final, the winner from each division will compete against each other for the $1 million grand prize.

The panel of experts — queen bee Jennifer Lopez, recording artist Ne-Yo and Dancing With the Stars alum Derek Hough — score the acts using five criteria, worth 20 points each: Performance, Technique, Choreography, Creativity and Presentation. An average score of at least 80 moves you forward to the next round — which I think happened for all but one (the cloggers) of the acts featured on Tuesday, though I did tune in a few minutes late.

Jenna Dewan Tatum serves as World of Dance‘s host/mentor, but at least in this debut hour was given precious little to do on-camera; let’s hope that changes as the competition forges on.

The actual set tries so hard to create the illusion of a Thunderdome-like, filled-to-capacity arena, when in reality it appears to be just a single row of audience members. And something bugged me about 1) how the judges’ dais, with its match-y front, appeared to be “floating,” and 2) how the camera angles on Ne-Yo versus J.Lo and Hough had it looking as if they were facing in different directions.

All three judges bring specific and qualified POVs to their opinions, with Ne-Yo perhaps the most engaging/thoughtful while Hough seems to still be settling into the role of on-camera commentator. J.Lo was her usual effusive self, though rightly so given the high (and sometimes jaw-dropping) quality of acts featured on Night 1.

What was your first impression of NBC’s World of Dance, its variety of performers and the judges’ criticism?

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