'egendary - Season Three' Source: HBO Max

Review: 'Legendary' Raises The Stakes For Season Three

JC Alvarez READ TIME: 3 MIN.

Welcome to another night at the ball, where it's about more than just striking a pose. Its blood, sweat, and tears – and you have to be ready to leave it all on the floor. The pageantry of the runway and the houses that represent the best of what can be brought from across the country return for another knockdown, drag-out battle for the ballroom on HBO Max's hit competition reality series "Legendary," now in its third season. This year the judges welcome a new personality with the addition of triple threat KeKe Palmer, serving it up for the mainstream.

This season the "Grand March," where the competing houses are introduced, is separated into two nights. The judges have very high expectations, and they want these performers to prove they have the fundamentals of ballroom down pat. That means that out the gate, they better know how to vogue while giving face, popping, and dropping it in sync, especially as a family. When it's done right and from the heart, it is mind-blowing – it literally is everything, and that's what it means to achieve legendary status.

Each season it feels as if the performers keep stepping it up. The competition has escalated and the talent is fierce, but when they can't pull it out, the judges aren't going to let these children get away with just going halfway. That's when the battles come into play and the houses have to bring their most capable talent to the floor. They must leave it all on the runway – or go home. It's not always all about precision choreography or drama; the judges are looking for hardcore realness and authenticity.

Many of this season's houses are relatively newly formed, and they are from all over the country. Some are also internationally based, which is a testament to the reach of the ballroom culture, which was once relegated to the underground corridors of New York City's club scene. The elements of vogue are far more intricate than anyone can imagine, and as each house battles for the title of "legendary" it becomes more and more evident that the athleticism needed to succeed is not for the weak.

Returning to the ballroom are judges Jameela Jamil, couture stylist Law Roach, and vogue legend Leiomy Maldonado. You can expect Jameela and KeKe to fill out the critiques with a lot of color and impressive flourish, but Law and Leimoy aren't there to play. These two vogue legends bring the most authenticity to the ballroom, and they are prepared to school not only the competitors but also the rest of us in the time-honored traditions of the ballroom. There is a particular technique and skill set that has to be met in order to move on to the next round.

The stakes have increased as the competition moves into its third season. With each night at the ball, a new theme has to be imagined to move closer to the grand prize and the title of "Legendary." No matter whom you might root for – whether it's the House of Revlon, the House of LaBeija, or the House of Alpha Omega – everyone is incredibly impressive. More importantly, they are very entertaining. The new season begins on Thursday, May 19, and HBO Max, and will set the runway on fire up to the heart-stopping finale.

"Legendary" returns for a new Season 3 on HBO Max, Thursday, May 19.

by JC Alvarez

Native New Yorker JC Alvarez is a pop-culture enthusiast and the nightlife chronicler of the club scene and its celebrity denizens from coast-to-coast. He is the on-air host of the nationally syndicated radio show "Out Loud & Live!" and is also on the panel of the local-access talk show "Talking About".

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