Jonathan y Jorge salsa their way to ‘World of Dance’ and onto a national spotlight

By : Jeremy Williams
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NBC’s dance competition series “World of Dance” premiered with a new season on Feb. 26. The hit series—led by the trio of dance superstar judges Jennifer Lopez (who also serves as an executive producer), Derek Hough and NE-YO—gives dancers the platform to showcase their talents and the opportunity to receive a life-altering grand prize of $1 million.

On the show’s third season premiere, the world witnessed the amazing dance talents of Orlando native Jonathan Troncosco and Peruvian dancer Jorge Valcarcel—collectively known on “World of Dance” as Jonathan y Jorge.Troncosco, who turned 31 on March 3, says as far as most dancers go he got into the game rather late.
“I started dancing around 20 years old,” he says, “while attending the University of Central Florida with a hip hop group. After about four years of that I started dancing Latin and I knew at that point I didn’t want to do anything else.”

Troncosco met Valcarcel in late 2017 during a dance event in Orlando. Troncosco was there with his dance company and Valcarcel, who was a dance soloist, was “at the event doing his own thing.”

“Jorge wanted to get a picture of himself in the air during a lift but there was no one else around who could lift him,” Troncosco says. “As I walked by he asked me if I would lift him, so I said of course.”

The first dance move Troncosco and Valcarcel did together is a lift called The Bird.

“We did The Bird and it worked out the very first time we tried it,” Troncosco says. “We finished and just looked at each other like, ‘Oh yeah, we definitely have to work together.’ So we’ve been working together since.”

Troncosco and Valcarcel were both fans of the first two seasons of “World of Dance” and decided they wanted to be a part of the next season. The first step was getting producers to invite them to officially audition.

“For the show, they are very selective. You have to send in a video first and then be chosen to audition,” Troncosco says. “They don’t really do open auditions because the whole selection process is quite long.”

Once they were selected to audition for the judges, Troncosco and Valcarcel knew they had to put together a routine that would wow the judges and the audience.

“We always create it together,” Troncosco says. “I choreograph all of the parts that have to do with partnering and Jorge choreographs all the parts that have to do with shines and side-by-sides. We also have a coach who helps us with our tricks and spins. He is amazing.”

Jonathan y Jorge took the “World of Dance” stage during the season premiere and instantly had the attention of each judge as the show’s first same-sex dance couple (Troncosco and Valcarcel are a couple in dance only, they are both openly gay but not romantically involved). The next thing Lopez noticed were the costumes, commenting to the other judges that “now these are J. Lo backup dancers.”

“I actually designed and made the outfits myself,” Troncosco says. “Jorge really wanted something that was see-through and I wanted something that was really sparkly. I love sparkles, so that was where we kind of met with it.”

Jonathan y Jorge danced a salsa routine to one of Lopez’s own songs, “El Anillo.”

“Oh, we were feeling a bit intimidated for sure,” Troncosco says, laughing. “You have to remember that she knows that song like the back of her hand, clearly, because it’s her song. She knows, not only the little nuances and the beats that go on in the music, but she knows it better than anyone. So if you’re not going to portray what she’s talking about in your routine, then that is definitely going to work against you. On top of that, we were dancing a style that is not typically danced to that type of music. So we had to make sure that the dancing not only portrayed what the song was saying but it also still kept some of the authenticity of the dance itself.”

Jonathan y Jorge’s routine blew up on social media. Their dance clip from the show has nearly 800,000 views on the “World of Dance” YouTube channel and Out Magazine’s posting of the video on Facebook has been viewed more than 2.5 million times. Jonathan y Jorge equally impressed the judges.

“Damn! That was really, really good,” NE-YO said. “The energy, the costumes; great job!”

“It was so fun to watch and so entertaining,” Hough said. The “Dancing with the Stars” performer also drew attention to the show’s milestone of featuring a same-sex couple. “You know in dance now we don’t refer to the partners as male and female anymore, we refer to them as the leader and the follower for this very reason. Because it doesn’t matter.” Hough then got up and danced on stage with Valcarcel.

“The tricks were really, really good. Your spins were amazing,” Lopez said, but she also offered some constructive criticism. “The transitions between were not as strong. The actual salsa flavor and moves for me weren’t there. I need that to be worked on.”

Lopez gave Jonathan y Jorge a score of 87, Hough gave a score of 89 and NE-YO gave a score of 90; giving the duo a final average of 88.7, more than the 85 needed to advance to the next round known as Duels.

Jonathan y Jorge went up against the duo of Denise & Josh in the first week of the “World of Dance” Duels on March 17. They took the stage with another fierce set of costumes and amazing dance moves.

“They’re impressing me today,” Lopez said to NE-YO from the judges table during Jonathan y Jorge’s performance.

After it was said and done, the judges awarded the duel to Jonathan y Jorge advancing them to the next round.

Regardless of what happens now throughout the rest of the season, Troncosco is proud of what they have done being the first same-sex couple on “World of Dance.”

“I love my sexuality. Being a proud gay man is very important for me because I built myself up to be the person that I am and dancing helped me to get there,” Troncosco says. “It’s an unconditional love and passion for something that will always be there for me.”

You can follow Jonathan y Jorge’s progress on the third season of “World of Dance” every Sunday on NBC.

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