The fourth season of World of Dance premieres tonight. Competing for the $1 million prize are three junior teams from Canada: GigaBots and GRVMNT from Vancouver and Itty Bitty Crew from Edmonton.
The hit dance competition show has been airing on NBC since 2017. Competitors are from all over the world (mainly the United States) and are divided into two categories: juniors, who are seventeen years old and younger, and uppers, who are older. This season, the judges are Jennifer Lopez (executive producer), Derek Hough and NE-YO. Thirty-four teams will be competing.
In addition to winning the cash prize, this is a chance for the Canadian teens to be seen dancing by millions of people all over the world.
“I think there’s a kind of hidden stigma that the States are maybe a little bit more trained than Canada is, or they have a better dance industry when we have just as good, if not better, dancers from Canada as well,” said Vince Akinyode, the Itty Bitty Crew’s choreographer.
Akinyode, who is also the director of Eye Candy Company, said the Itty Bitty Crew started about four or five years ago with more than twenty dancers and had been competing at the World of Dance touring competitions. To audition for this year’s show, he chose three dancers from the larger team: fifteen-year-old Dayton Paradis from Saskatoon and thirteen-year-old twin brothers Ethan and Ayden Valdriz from Edmonton.
“I think it’s cool to be able to say that I’m dancing on the same stage and next to people who have previously been on the show or are on the show now that are just crazy good,” Paradis said. He also said that he immediately thought of the opportunities that the team would have, after hearing the news that they made the cut.
“The first thought that went through my head,” Ethan said, “was that it was kind of scary. I’m just a very shy person, but I was also happy at the same time.”
Akinyode said the competition also pushed him as a choreographer: “I’ve never been asked to choreograph something on this scale, so you definitely learn a lot about yourself as a choreographer for sure.” He also said knowing that his choreography was going to be seen by so many people on television made him really scrutinize his work.
Also competing is GRVMNT, an eleven-member team born out of Fresh Groove Productions in Richmond, BC. The youngest dancer on the team is eleven, and the oldest dancers on the team are seventeen.
Michael Wu, who is seventeen, said the entire process of World of Dance was stressful because of the long rehearsals, that often lasted well past midnight, but that the team learned a lot. “We are still a relatively new team,” he said. “From this show, we really understand each other’s weaknesses and strengths and learned how to be patient with each other.” And they hope that viewers will be able to feel their commitment while watching.
“I hope they can feel what we’re feeling when we’re dancing,” said seventeen-year-old Emily Sun, also of GRVMNT. “Our passion and all our hard work.”
Season 4 of World of Dance premieres tonight at 10pm ET/PT on NBC.