‘World of Dance’s MDC 3 on When They Knew They Were Going to Win Season 4

World of Dance Season 4 Winner MDC 3 Junior Division
Trae Patton/NBC

World of Dance has crowned another winner, and it’s a first for the dance competition series, which just wrapped Season 4—a group of contemporary dancers.

MDC 3—teenagers Madison Smith, Emma Mather, and Diego Pasillas—were the only Junior Division act to compete in the finals (which aired August 12), beating out Oxygen, Jefferson y Adrianita, and Geometrie Variable to take home the victory and be crowned “Best in the World.” “It’s almost like a dream come true,” Pasillas tells TV Insider.

Being the only Juniors competing “was definitely very nerve-racking,” Smith adds. “We had to pull up a lot and rehearse as hard as we could.” For the resulting performance (below), they made sure to take all the notes from the judges into consideration before finalizing the choreography. “We all wanted to make sure we had the emotion [alongside] the cool tricks [as well] because we are known as the storytellers of the show,” Mather explains.

Unfortunately, the trio also had to make adjustments based on the fact that there wasn’t an audience for their act, other than their families for support. (The finale was filmed as production was beginning to shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.) That aspect did make it a bit more of a challenge since their final piece was “really energetic,” as Mather says. “So, we needed to build off of each other instead of relying on [an] audience to give us energy.” Doing so, “made us focus on each other more and our own energies,” Smith adds, “[that] brought us closer together during the performance.”

Still, going into the finals, the dance trio felt confident. According to Smith, they knew they had the potential to win it all after getting the highest score in the show’s previous round. And it was that semifinals performance—the story of her mother’s battle with cancer, set to “This Woman’s Work” by Maxwell—that all three agree was their favorite of the season.

“It meant a lot to me to be able to perform that on the World of Dance stage and to be able to bring that to a bigger platform,” Smith admits.

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Pasillas also recalls their Duels performance—to “Never Again” by Kelly Clarkson, a continuance of the love triangle story introduced in the qualifiers’ one set to “Apologize” by OneRepublic—as a favorite, due to its “amazing energy” and the specific challenge of competing against another group (Chibi Unity).

All three members of MDC 3 are grateful for their time on World of Dance. “It definitely helped me realize how much the dance industry’s going to need me to think quick and just be able to perfect my dances,” Mather says. Smith also cites learning to “be flexible as a dancer, because that’s really important working on a professional job” as one of the biggest takeaways from the experience.

The dancers, who already have future projects lined up, took home $1 million with their victory, and all three are planning to go on shopping sprees post-win (“We deserve to celebrate ourselves after all the hard work we put in,” Smith exclaims). They’ll save some, too, to put towards first cars and Los Angeles apartments.

After their killer finale performance, we can’t wait to see what these three talented dancers do next in their careers!