“You must be dreading it,” host Cat Deeley said to the judges at the beginning of Wednesday’s live show.
The judges were tasked with sending home two men and two women of the six dancers voted into the bottom by viewers.
But first, all 20 contestant took to the stage to perform this week’s routines, which ended with a rousing Bollywood number by Whitney Carson, 18, and Chehon Wespi-Tschopp, 23.
“I don’t think you did yourselves proud last week, but you made up for it this week,” head judge Nigel Lythgoe told Carson and Wespi-Tschopp. Lythgoe was right – the pair were revealed to be in the bottom six.
They were joined by Alexa Anderson, 19, Daniel Baker, 24, Janaya French, 20, and Nick Bloxsom-Carter, 20.
Before announcing the eliminations, Lythgoe revealed that the judges will consider feedback from the choreographers this season.
“I decided to hand out the decision-making process,” Lythgoe told PEOPLE of speaking to the choreographers and the previous week’s judge. “It makes it much easier.”
Ultimately Lythgoe, along with judge Mary Murphy and guest judge Adam Shankman, chose to save Carson and Wespi-Tschopp. “We believe Whitney is a real star, and we certainly did not want to lose one of the ballet boys in the first week,” Lythoe said.
The other four were sent home, but not without some regret from the judges. “I’m very sad for Alexa. She has those movie-star quality looks. We were just so disappointed she couldn’t find the magic,” Murphy said of Anderson.
“I was a real supporter of Alexa,” Lythgoe added. “But she never made the connections we wanted her to make.”
Still, Murphy has faith that America hasn’t seen the last of Anderson. “That girl,” she added, “when she does open up and comes from behind whatever wall she has up, she will be one of the best dancers in this country.”