SALT LAKE CITY — After wowing “World of Dance” judges and fans with high-flying leaps, making history with a perfect score and advancing through the competition with a broken toe, Springville duo Charity and Andres' journey on the NBC dance show came to an end Wednesday night.
The 18-year-old dancers, who were the Junior Division champions and one of four remaining acts going into Wednesday night's final round, walked away from the 2018 “World of Dance” finals with a combined average score of 94.3 — earning a third place spot in the intense competition for the $1 million prize.
The duo spoke with the Deseret News on Thursday about their experiences on the show. This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Deseret News: Can you talk about your journey together and how you got on "World of Dance"?
Charity Anderson: We met when we were 8 and were ballroom partners for four years. Then we split up and Andres started getting more into contemporary. We didn’t dance together for five years or really have much contact with each other, and then I asked him to be my partner for “World of Dance” after I watched the first episode of the first season.
I am always looking for a challenge and always trying to do something that’s better than what I’ve done before. … I was a little bit nervous asking Andres to be my partner — I didn’t know how he would react. (But) he said yes and then we found out there was an opportunity to audition for “World of Dance” in about three weeks. … We sent in a very last minute video — it was after the deadline. Two hours later we got a response saying that they wanted us at the live audition. So everything was super last-minute and fast-paced.
DN: How long did you two have to prepare for each round on “World of Dance”?
Andres Penate: It all depended on what round we were on. Our first round was in January, and then we had three weeks to prepare for our next dance, and then from there, it kept getting shorter and shorter. Toward the end, toward the finale, we only had one week to prepare two dances. So you can just imagine the amount of stress on our shoulders and how overwhelmed we were. But it taught us what we were capable of. It taught us that when we needed to, we could bust out choreography and make it work and make it happen. So that was really cool.
DN: Charity, four days before the semifinal round you broke your toe. How did that happen, and did you think you’d have to drop out of the competition?
CA: We were coming up with a new lift, and in the lift Andres has to let go of me completely while I spin around his shoulder, and then he’ll catch me around the other side. … I (fell during) that time where he isn’t holding on to me. … Usually when we fall out of lifts we pop back up in .2 seconds — it’s not a big deal. But I said, “I don’t think I can get up from this one.”
I’ve never felt that much pain. I’d never broken a bone before so I didn't know what that was like and I thought I would be fine and I could just walk it off. … Not much long after, the ambulance showed up. … They rushed me to the hospital and they told me that I broke my toe. At this point, I looked at my mom and she’s like, ‘What are you thinking right now?’ And I was like, ‘I don’t know if I can walk.’
She was the one who was encouraging me to not drop out of the competition, to give me strength (and tell me) that it’s mind over matter, that you can do anything you put your mind to. I walked out of that hospital and went into rehearsal the next day. We had come so far in this competition and I wasn’t about to let one little thing stop us from our progress.
DN: Andres, what was your reaction when this happened?
AP: I wasn't talking at all.
CA: I don’t think I heard a peep out of him for like a day.
AP: There were some tears after Charity left, but the producers calmed me down because it was really ugly.
DN: Is your toe better? How much time has passed since that happened?
CA: It’s been five months, but just now recently, like these past two weeks, it’s starting to feel back to normal. Even a month ago, I couldn't bend my toe down because there was so much scar tissue that I had to break up, and that was very painful.
DN: Were you in a lot of pain during the “World of Dance” finals?
CA: Oh yeah. I think it was even more swollen in the finals. I didn’t take any ibuprofen for the semifinals but I did for the finals just because we were being a little bit more daring and not holding anything back.
DN: How did your faith as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints help you on this show?
CA: Every time we went out on the floor, every time we were choreographing, I felt I was constantly praying. Before we go out on the floor each time, we pray that we can inspire and fill people with a good spirit and help them understand how we feel about this God-given talent that we’ve been given. … When I broke my toe, I especially had to rely on my faith to help me through it because I knew I couldn't do it without Christ. I did get a father’s blessing and I know that that helped me. I don’t think that we could’ve done as well as we did if I didn't rely on Christ.
AP: Without a doubt, I feel like we definitely could not have made it this far without Christ at all. I really think that he’s the one who pushed us where we needed to be so that we could get this far in the competition.
CA: Even after our performances, we would always make sure to have a prayer of gratitude because everything that we’ve been given is given from Christ and everything is his and everything is evidence of him. I don’t think we can take any credit for anything.
DN: Who was your favorite judge and why?
AP: They’re all amazing judges. I like how hard Ne-Yo is and how he tries to be kind of tougher on you. And J-Lo because she’s just amazing and she’s an amazing dancer/singer/actress — a triple threat. But I really liked Derek (Hough), just because he has so much professional dance experience and because he’s also from Utah. And so it’s just somebody that you really look up to because he came from the same place we came from and to look at him now, he’s just doing amazing and that’s (our) ultimate goal, to be able to make a living out of dance.
DN: What was your favorite performance that you did this season?
CA: It kind of changes for me. Right now, I think I like our finale performances just because that was the last time we were on the floor and we gave it our all and it just felt so good.
AP: I really liked the one for the Duels — the perfect score one. Just because it was fun to do and I got to throw Charity around.
DN: Did receiving the first-ever combined perfect score on "World of Dance" make you two nervous going into the other rounds?
CA: Most definitely the next round we were second-guessing ourselves, doubting. It was really hard to go back out on the floor. But we kind of just had to accept that it happened. … It’s not like it was perfect because there’s no such thing as being perfect. We just hit all the points. That’s how I had to think about it.
AP: The next couple of dances, it would aways kind of haunt me, “We got a perfect score, we have to live up to this.” But toward the end, like for (our finale performances), that’s why it felt so good, because we left everything on the floor and it was just like, ‘This is us, this is what we’re going to give them.’ It just felt really good to let it out and not be so afraid anymore.
DN: What was the hardest part of being on the show?
CA: I feel like choreographing because it was our own choreography and we had to come up with something fresh and new — something that people hadn’t seen before. Just to have the confidence to choreograph for such a huge thing and to put our choreography in front of judges and in front of people to watch.
DN: What did it mean to be a part of the show?
CA: To even walk on the floor the very first time was a dream. That’s all we were asking for. And each time that we advanced, it was unbelievable. We didn’t expect to. We are immensely grateful and are so happy that we had the opportunity.
DN: Do you think you’ll try out for the next season?
AP: Probably not next season, (but) you never know what’s going to happen. Possibly a couple years (from now).
DN: In the "World of Dance" finals, Jennifer Lopez praised your partnership and called you two the "stand-out couple" of the year. Are you two dating?
CA: We always get that. We’re glad that we are so convincing because that’s what dancing is about — convincing people of your story and acting. So that’s awesome.
DN: Do you have anything else you'd like to say?
AP: I (want to) tell people to always take the opportunities that come up because you never know what’s going to happen. Never miss a shot — we never expected anything like this to happen.