Murrieta resident competes on NBC’s ‘World of Dance’

Dancers Emma Mather from Anaheim Hills, Madison Smith, middle, from Murrieta and Diego Pasillas from Huntington Beach perform on NBC’s “World of Dance.” Valley News/Courtesy photo

Murrieta resident Madison Smith will perform contemporary dance with her teammates Emma Mather of Anaheim Hills and Diego Pasillas of Huntington Beach on season four of NBC’s “World of Dance.” The trio trains at Mather Dance Company in Placentia, learning from owner and well-known choreographer Shannon Mather.

Smith, 17, Mather, 15, and Pasillas, 17, make up a dance team called MDC 3. The three dancers pull inspiration from their lives to create unique performances filled with emotion and passion, Smith said.

She was inspired by her mother’s journey battling breast cancer not once, but twice. In response to her mother’s second diagnosis, she choreographed a contemporary dance to raise awareness for breast cancer.

The team, led by Smith, has been entering dance competitions for six years. After four consecutive years auditioning for “World of Dance,” the team made it to the qualifiers round recently. Next, they will move on to the dual round, and possibly a call back round. If they get past the first two rounds, they will continue to the semi-finals and finally the world final.

When MDC 3 performed in the qualifiers round, they were surprised with celebrity judges Jennifer Lopez, Derek Hough and NE-YO. While the situation was nerve-wracking for some contestants, the dancers explained how being surprised was beneficial for them.

“We actually perform better when we’re nervous,” Pasillas said.

Mather, who began dancing at a young age, said she has been passionate about dance since she was a child, and her mother is the owner of Mathers Dance Studio. Pasillas also had an interest in dance at a young age and took all kinds of dance classes as a child. Smith’s family is passionate about all kinds of art, she said. While her mother is involved in theater, her older sister dances. Smith followed in their footsteps when she decided to pursue dance professionally.

The process of auditioning for “World of Dance” provided the team opportunity to get their name out and develop a platform, they said.

“The past four years have been challenging,” Mather said. “We have grown a lot throughout the process.”

With many more stories to tell, MDC 3 continue their journey with “World of Dance.” The show takes place at 10 p.m. Pacific Standard time, every Tuesday on NBC.

Samantha Cox can be reached by email at