Judge Billy Crawford gives Canadian duo Luka & Jenalyn a standing ovation and asks: “Why are you joining World of Dance Philippines?”
“To be half Filipino, I’m representing my family,” replied Jenalyn. “It’s such an honor to be here honestly. I’m so happy to be here to share my talent.”
The duo’s first routine on the first season of the show effortlessly blended their signature dance style of acrobatics and ballroom together. Judge Gary Valenciano gushed about how much heart their performance held: “That’s what made it world class,” he told the them. This first performance in the Philippines received a 95.3 and would set them on their journey to the live grand finale.
World of Dance Philippines is hosted by Pia Wurtzbach, co-host Lucky Manzano and features a panel of extraordinary superstars including Billy Crawford, Gary Valenciano and Maja Salvador. For the live grand finale that aired April 6th and 7th, worldwide viewers were able to support their favorite act and become the fourth judge, ultimately deciding the finalists’ fate in the competition. An estimated thirty-two million across Asia watched the historical event, making it the first live finale of World of Dance ever televised. A show that is truly living up to its name, the dance competition series is now in over five countries.
Having competed in the first two seasons of the US version of NBCS’sWorld of Dance, Luka & Jenalyn are no stranger to the series. The location for the Filipino version of the show, nonetheless, is one that would hit close to home; especially for Jenalyn and her family. The decision to make the fifteen hour flight to the Philippines over the course of five months was an easy one due to Jenalyn being Filipino and her ties to the country. It is her mother Myra’s homeland. It became a way for her family to strengthen the ties to their roots, culture and heritage.
It doesn’t matter whether your Filipino/Puerto Rican (Gary Valenciano), Filipino/German (Pia Wurtzbach), Filipino/American (Billy Crawford) or pure Filipina (Maja Salvador). Being Filipino is more than being born in Philippines, it’s about carrying the Filipino spirit. World of Dance is the biggest dance show in the world that shows the best of the best dancers, no matter the background or culture.
Each week in the Philippines, Luka & Jenalyn stepped up their game to compete against the enormous talent on the show. Their performances included routines to “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone” by Bill Withers, “Love Someone” by Lukas Graham and “Unsteady” by X Ambassadors (that we were behind the scenes for last year when they worked with mentors Les Twins and Aidan Carberry). Their divisional final win for “Natural” by Imagine Dragons was a chilling performance that brought all judges to their feet, propelling them to the final stage of the competition.
“The process to create Natural was all about taking what we have and bringing it to new levels,” says choreographer Aidan Carberry. “We focused on fitting more into the dance then any other we’ve done before. Also adding elements that were more aggressive to tell a different story.”
The competition was high as the top three acts competed in the finals. Ken San Jose, FCPC Baliktanaw, and Luka & Jenalyn fought for a chance to win two million Philippine pesos (equivalent to fifty-one thousand dollars Canadian), an all-expense paid trip to Los Angeles, and become the country’s representative in NBC’s World of Dance. The grand dance battle heightened the excitement of viewers as the three finalists from each division (Junior Division, Upper Division and Team Division) pulled out all the stops to showcase their immense dance versatility in the much anticipated “World Finals” of World of Dance Philippines.
During the finals, Luka & Jenalyn proved that they are Pinoy at heart and brought pride to the country with their emotional and effortless performances. For night one of the finals they performed a heartfelt dance to “Akin Ka Na Lang” by Morissette Amon. The beautiful Filipino song was chosen by judge Gary Valenciano, who said the duo “took the heart of the Pinoys” with their performance. They received an average score of 94.67.
“I didn’t think you would take it to this level higher than what you’ve done before but it looks like you did it again and you took the heart of the Pinoy to the Pinoys by doing this song,” Valenciano announced to the duo after their performance.
Judge Maja Salvador said: “Your performances are always breathtaking.” She further added, “You never fail to amaze us.”
Billy Crawford praised the duo for their connection.
For the final night, Luka & Jenalyn once again pushed themselves to the limit, giving it all they had in their dream of winning the championship. Performing live, the duo left it all on the dance floor as they performed a moving routine to Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s “Shallow” from the film A Star Is Born. They received a standing ovation and a perfect score from the judges. Billy Crawford called the performance their “best” yet, while Gary Valenciano said that they have raised the bar high in the competition.
“Both of you have served as an inspiration to so many people watching,” spoke Valenciano. “They all want to beat you. They all put you as the standard that they should come up to in order to make it this far.”
Luka & Jenalyn placed second receiving an average score of 96.38 points with the combined audience vote. Hip hop group FCPC Baliktanaw became grand champions after earning a nearly perfect score of 99.05 points from the judges and online voters. Although Luka & Jenalyn didn’t win the the title, they won the hearts of Filipinos everywhere.
“Competing in World of Dance Philippines has meant so much to both of us,” Jenalyn tells Breakaway Daily. “The countless hours, the sleepless nights, and the hard work put in every day spend working on our craft. It has all been worth it.”
Jenalyn goes on to express the enormous gratitude she feels for the show, not only giving her and Luka a platform to showcase their talent, but a way to connect with her ancestry.
“This show has given me an opportunity to make my dreams come true by reuniting my family that has been separated for almost half a century,” Jenalyn says. “My venture to World of Dance Philippines has given my mother and grandparents the opportunity to come back to their home country for the first time in years. With that we have been able to reconnect with out roots, culture, and family members.”