By early 2019, word had slipped out that the hip hop duo Funkanometry, featuring Duncan’s Carlow Rush and Nanaimo’s Jacksun Fryer, had been accepted for NBC’s World of Dance show.
By April 1, the Citizen was able to report, “They’ve made the cut!”
Lots of Valley folks were watching eagerly as the show finally kicked off its new season and there they were. Our guys were onstage in front of judges Jennifer Lopez, Ne-Yo, and Derek Hough and a big, noisy live audience.
That night Rush and Fryer made it past the “duels” stage of the blockbuster talent show.
They defeated Kayla Mak, of Brooklyn, NY, in an astonishing face-off that saw the hip hop duo fighting for junior level survival against a ballerina.
The stage became a real battleground as the junior level performers duelled for places in the next stage, presenting all kinds of exciting performances.
“You’ve got to get into that duel mentality,” judge and show producer J-Lo warned all the competitors before the evening got underway.
Cowichan Valley fans didn’t have to wait long to see their team, either: Rush and Fryer were in the second duel of the night.
Dancing to Problem’s ‘Betta Watch Yo Self’, Funkanometry had the crowd and the judges with them right from the start.
Rush was about 10 inches taller than Fryer at the time although he’s only one year older. They could both be easily seen, even when Fryer was standing in front, and the duo was not afraid to take advantage of this sometimes comic difference in height.
Actually, Funkanometry was one of the few acts to bring some comedy into their dance. They were funny as well as fun to watch: something that is not easy to achieve.
When they finished their routine, which had included a comic “lift” to tease their opponent, and finished with them waving pink ballet shoes at the judges, it was clear they had really stepped up from their first outing on Feb. 26.
The judges thought so, too. Ne-Yo scored them at 92, J-Lo at 91, and Derek Hough at 92, giving them an overall score of 91.7.
Kayla Mak, who had come to the stage in “battle ballet” mode, was only able to reach a score of 91.0.
“It was close; it was scary,” Rush said after the dance, and Jacksun agreed, adding that Mak was a super dancer who “should go to Redemption [the last dance-off each evening that saw the two best-of-the-rest try for one last time to get a toe in the door].”
Funkanometry was, according to Hough, “a really unique group. You guys don’t get lost in the pack.”
That was a fun week for Funkanometry. They appeared on King5 TV’s New Day Northwest morning show in Seattle to talk about their first appearance on World of Dance, but, of course, were not able to spill the beans about how their duel would turn out.
With a Facebook following alone of 3.1 million, and occupying the blockbuster 8-10 p.m. Sunday night spot on NBC, World of Dance is an enormously popular program, with watchers and followers all over the world.
It doesn’t hurt that the winner takes home $1 million, either. The tension on- an off-stage was thick enough to cut with a knife, but it was clear that the junior competitors, at least, had a great respect and affection for each other as they tried to make their mark in a world of dance.
By April 19, fans of Funkanometry were by their TVs again.
Rush and Fryer had passed the qualifying stage, won their duel, and made The Cut, hopefully on the way to winning a $1 million prize.
But, as anxious watchers knew, The Cut is the deepest. There was no Redemption round to offer a second way to make it back. It was a dance-by-numbers game and the numbers rule. Out is out. Nice to have met you. A lot of fine performers had already bitten the dust.
That meant it was time for the Junior Level solos and duos, including Funkanometry.
Meanwhile, closer to home, Carlson’s Dance held two special sessions April 13 and 14 with Funkanometry at their Duncan studios. These were broadcast live on Instagram and also attracted fans to the studio to come and meet their idols and even buy Funkanometry hoodies while the guys taught a few moves, visited classes and had their photos taken with visitors.
But Funkanometry was eliminated from World of Dance on April 16 after an impressive run.
The teenage dancers had held their own through the qualifier stage and then won their duel but the judges decided they were over-matched Sunday night, not getting their ticket to the divisional finals.
For their final event, all the juniors were mentored by Lopez, who urged them to give her “a little bit more dynamics” when they came to their final number.
Fryer teased Rush about his obvious crush on J-Lo.
“I’m obsessed,” he said.
Their dance was to ‘After Hours’ by BTEK and the Blacksmiths’ and unlike anyone else, they first appeared behind the judges before taking the stage itself. As always, Funkanometry took the risk of presenting a humorous routine: it was their specialty and they’d pleased the judges with it in the past, so why not?
Although they didn’t win the chance to go further, at least one judge was impressed.
“You guys are kind of becoming a favourite of mine,” Ne-Yo said, adding, “You earn the funny,” in acknowledgment that not everyone can carry off a comedic routine.
Later in the year, Funkanometry was rewarded with a Joey award for Best Reality or Competition Performance for their work on World of Dance.