Jennifer Lopez, Ne-Yo, and Derek Hough are set to return to NBC this evening, taking their places on the panel of judges seeking the best dancers from around the world on the premiere of World of Dance’s fourth season. This dance competition challenges elite performers from a diverse range of genres, ages, and styles to step up their game and light up the stage. The competitors are all looking for the same thing: The chance for bragging rights and a$1 million dollar grand prize, the culmination of years of training and anticipation.
As society experiences turmoil, there’s an increasing need for shows like NBC’s World of Dance, a display of talent that offers the rest of us a retreat from current reality, an outlet for us to experience love, pain, sadness, and joy through the arts. Recently, I sat down with Jefferson & Adrianita, a salsa act that hails from Colombia who will appear on tonight’s premiere, via a video conference to ask them about their journey to the World of Dance stage.
Watching them perform is thrilling, not only because of their immense talent and precision as young salseros — they’re both in their 20s — but also because of their obvious bond and chemistry as partners in both dance and life. Adrianita’s energy and persistence, combined with Jefferson’s focus and motivation, create an ideal blend that complements their professional and personal relationship. Huge fans of the show, they named their son Derek after panelist Derek Hough.
Your style of dance, Salsa Calena comes from Cali, Colombia. I love salsa, but you knock my dancing out of the park! Your sultry, fast steps accompanied by exciting energy are irresistible! How do you describe your style?
A & J: Our dance is composed of a variety of movements with rapid footwork being a key component. The choreography is taken to a higher level when we incorporate the tricks.
Your rehearsals are described as intense, two hours daily. How do you maintain your energy? What is your secret? Where do you draw your strength and trust for all those tricks?
A & J: There is a vigorous 3-month physical and psychological training in preparation for competitions. Our performances impact audiences; we always want to give our best. Having a great group of trainers that work with us to help get ready is essential. A combination of these elements provides a strong foundation that increases mutual trust to do it all. It takes time.
Adrianita, you fell in love with dancing at the age of 3. You were 16 years old when joined by your partner, Jefferson. Do you remember when you fell for him? Jefferson: Do you recall when Adrianita hit you with Cupid’s arrow?
A & J: We met during our youth while dancing for the same group but did not actually dance together until much later. A friendship was born then it grew into something much more special over the years.
A: Jefferson won’t admit he flirted first but he did!
In an interview you stated the show must go on despite injuries, fights, and tears; the rehearsals have to continue. Was there a time that challenged you, and how did you push forward? What characteristic does each of you possess that helped you through this tough moment?
A & J: Both of us have an incredible focus to compete at the highest level. We ensure that we’re maintaining proper training that includes dancing, gymnastics, and nutrition among them.
In the midst of preparing for competition, we found out that we had a son on the way. It halted the process [of competing] which was a blessing and challenge because everything had to be paused. We are thankful, and understanding today.
It was our biggest blessing that Derek [our son] happened. There are always compromises, even today. Deciding whether or not to travel with him is hard. Being away from our son is difficult but we make it work. Luckily, we have the support of our family, friends, and colleagues.
You have won dancing championships, medals, trophies. Why and how did you come to the decision to compete in World of Dance?
A & J: Taking ourselves to the next level as competitors and individuals has always been our dream. Competitions like World of Dance allow us to entertain and represent Latinos, Salsa, and our culture.
What has been the greatest obstacle you’ve overcome on the road to the World of Dance?
A & J: The stress ahead of competitions at this level can be fierce at times. Disagreements come from overtired moments but having our strong bond and parents to help us stay centered helps us get through any difficulties that can arise.
World of Dance has 34 acts, different genres, ages, levels, and styles. There will be an incredible amount of talent on stage. In three words, describe what you bring to the stage that sets you aside?
It is a collaboration displaying creativity, energy, and passion, delivering a spectacular show.
What has been the most impactful lesson or memory during this journey?
A & J: Overall the demands from each of us have been overwhelming. It takes constant discipline to attain the goals we set for ourselves. The work has brought us to where we have wanted to be, to have a chance for everything. Sharing the world stage with so many super talented participants is a dream come true.
If your son Derek grew up to tell you he would like to be a dancer like you, what would you tell him?
A: I hope it does not sound selfish: I’d prefer Derek not to choose to be a professional dancer. There is so much to see and experience in the world, I want him to see other things. This profession demands all your time, it is important to stay open to life’s possibilities.
Can you offer a message, perhaps words of encouragement to dreamers reading about the journey to the show?
J: The world needs arts, dance, and music. This kind of entertainment brings people happiness and inspires creativity that takes us into the future.
A: Never give up on what you want because dreams do come true. Wake up dreaming, don’t stop believing in yourself.
Tune in to NBC’s Season 4 Premiere of World of Dance to watch Jefferson y Adrianita compete this evening Tuesday, May 26th at 10pm ET/PT.