TV dancing competitions need a serious shake up for the better. Dancing With The Stars is starting to feel so long in the tooth it’s basically a wooly mammoth, everyone slept through FOX’s So You Think You Can Dance: The Next Generation, and MTV seems to have forgotten America’s Best Dance Crew is a thing after its 2015 revival. So, enter World Of Dance, NBC’s latest summer show. Is the Jennifer Lopez- and Jenna Dewan-Tatum-starring series the dance battle we’ve been waiting for? I just said “Jennifer Lopez,” “Jenna Dewan-Tatum,” and “dance battle” in the same sentence, so the answer is a resounding yes.
The first minute of World’s premiere gives viewers more spins, sequins, and dance styles than an entire episode of DWTS. There are flashes of contestants performing ballroom, break dancing, and whatever you call the aerobatic flips these people execute with the same ease most of us save for pressing “Next episode” during a Netflix binge. Thankfully, this is also the time we learn the extremely complex rules of executive producer J.Lo’s televised brain child. There are three divisions — Junior, Upper, and Team — who will compete among themselves, using any genre of they want, including clogging. In the World Final, the winners in each of the three divisions will go head-to-head for the big $1 million prize.
This could all easily devolve into chaos, but that’s what makes this “Olympics Of Dance” all the more fun. In just the first hour of World of Dance, there are teen ballroom dancers who are almost frighteningly intense, a pair of French twins who just so happen to be former Beyoncé backup dancers, and a sprawling group of Asian urban dancers who managed to find the best gender swapped cover of The Weeknd’s “High For This” I’ve ever heard. Everyone seems to be YouTube-famous and everyone is mind-blowingly good. Well, everyone except for the contemporary male clog dancers from Myrtle Beach, because that's really happening out there, who don’t make it past the qualifiers.
While Dance fans will spend 80% of their time watching these kickass performances, we also get to enjoy the judges table of my forever idol Lopez, Ne-Yo, and DWTS golden boy Derek Hough, as Dewan-Tatum hosts. Everyone is still understandably trying to figure out their role on the show, but they all look jazzed to be in Jenny From The Block’s general orbit. The chemistry is so good, I finally understand why people like Derek “I’ve Won More Mirror Ball Trophies Than Anyone Else Alive” Hough so much. And I almost permanently rolled my eyes into the back of my head every time I saw him during DWTS season 23.
Of course, there is one squint-worthy thing going on with Dance: just how professional is too professional for this show? The aforementioned super duo Les Twins have literally performed right next to Queen Bey. It’s hard to watch them compete against bright eyed and bushy tailed teens and pretend this is a fair fight. But, hey, maybe Dance’s unsurprisingly detailed five-part scoring system will level the playing field. We can only hope.