San Diego’s Fuego Dance Team Participated in NBC’s “World of Dance” Dueling Round


the San Diego one Fuego Dance Team had a great weekend, starting Friday night when the band performed in front of 19,000 at halftime of the NBA Lakers-Bucks game at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

But on Sunday evening, their audience was a little larger.

Fuego’s appearance on NBC “Dance World” had a nationwide audience of millions. (The show’s Season 3 premiere on February 26 had a estimated 6.26 million viewers.)

“We were trying to make San Diego proud, just doing what we love and having a good time,” Fuego frontman and co-founder Eric Payan said after the two-hour “Qualifiers” episode – taped months ago.

The Lakers lost to the Milwaukee Bucks 131-120 on Friday, but Fuego had the highest score in its Upper Team division – 93.7. That’s the average of judges Jennifer Lopez (95), Derek Hough (94) and Ne-Yo (92).

The mostly Hispanic hip-hop group therefore qualified for the duels in about two weeks – a process that will eventually award $1 million to an entry.

Dancing second on Sunday night’s show, Fuego wowed the crowd and the judges when 18-year-old, 5-foot-7, 130-pound Shawn Jones Nguyen leapt into the air and was grabbed one-handed by Paul Lopez, 20, a former three-sport player. athlete at Chula Vista High School.

“At first we tried to do a two-arm lift, but Paul was like, ‘I think we can do one arm,'” Payan said in a phone interview. “And Shawn was like, ‘Yeah, I’m willing to try with you. “”

After a few hundred workouts, they perfected the move “where they don’t have to think about it,” Payan said.

“The hardest part was keeping your arm stiff and not, like, fidgety,” said Payan, 23, who watched the show with a dozen other Fuego members at a friend’s house in Chula Vista.

Lewis Torres, 23, a fourth dancer from Fuego, was among those present, but not Andretty Lucatero, 23, a sushi chef who had to work Sunday night.

Fuego did an elaborately choreographed 80-second routine to the song “Chambera” by Benito Antonio Martinez Ocasio from Puerto Rico, known as Bad bunny.

Payan said Bad Bunny’s music was chosen because he was one of the most popular artists in the Latin community, and Fuego wanted to share “a Hispanic vibe”, but also something that fans of hip- hop would like.

What Fuego didn’t know: J Lo (a Bronx-born dancer/singer/actress whose parents are Puerto Rican) had recorded a music video with Bad Bunny. A YouTube version has been viewed 77 million times.

“We didn’t even know they knew each other until we were on the show,” Payan said.

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Another tribute came at the entrance to Fuego – where the members imitated the ring spacer of Conor Anthony McGregora former Ultimate Fighting Championship titlist.

“We wanted to look tough…like we came to do some damage,” Payan said. (It was Paul Lopez’s idea.)

After their routine, executive producer Lopez gave Fuego a mostly positive review. But she found a “little piece in the middle where it was a bit flat”.

Payan said the band knew their flaws even before that, but “we weren’t too worried about that.” They will take the judges’ criticism to heart, but will mostly listen to the group’s “own advice”.

They will probably also return to their lucky barber. Three members of Fuego had their hair cut by “Barber Gio” at Clipper Crew hair salon in El Cajon.

Judge Derek Hough (right) reacts in amazement during Fuego Dance Crew‘s performance on ‘World of Dance’. Picture via NBC

By midnight, the YouTube clip showing Fuego’s set was nearing 50,000 views, with nearly 100 comments, including former classmates.

“It’s crazy to say that I met Paul in middle school and had him as a classmate in high school,” one said. “A lot of people looked up to him and so did I. Congratulations man you deserve it.”

Payan said his phone “blew up” after the show aired on the East Coast, and again when airing on the West Coast. He heard from people in New York, Texas and Arizona.

Fuego has already taped at least one other show – the dueling scene that pits the Upper Team division groups (over 18s with at least five members) against each other. The three judges will also select the best entries in the other divisions – Junior (under 18), Junior Team (under 18 groups of five and over) and Upper (over 18).

The four division winners then compete for the $1 million prize.

On YouTube, some commenters are excited for Fuego.

“Very subtle, but very very good,” said a commentator with the Panda Parade handle. “Like that teacher at school who can speak softly but still controls the whole class. I look forward to these guys in the future.

Darren S said: “If they get robbed at any point this season, I quit everything.”

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