Mathieu Young/Fox/PictureGroup
June 18, 2010 01:00 AM

The first contestant to be voted off took a final bow on the So You Think You Can Dance stage Thursday – and it was jazz dancer Alexie Agdeppa. After auditioning for the show numerous times and finally fighting her way to the top 11, she was sent home after just one performance.

“I was a little bit in shock,” she told PEOPLE of finding out she was in the bottom three. “When I was backstage I came to peace with the fact that everything does happen for a reason and if I’m going to dance for my life then I’m going to dance for my life. I gave me.”

But, according to the judges, it wasn’t enough. “It was sort of a polite solo,” Adam Shankman said. “It didn’t say, ‘You cannot lose me.’ ”

Mia Michaels thought Agdeppa was missing that “fierceness” she needed to take her dancing to another level and Nigel Lythgoe expected more from her. “Everything Alexie has done we all go, ‘aww,’ ” he said. “I’ve got to stop going ‘aww’ sometimes and go ‘wow.’ ”

Also in the bottom three this week were salsa dancer Cristina Santana and tapper Melinda Sullivan, who had been told by the judges that she was “unsafe” and that she “needed to bring heart” after Wednesday’s performance show. Still, the judges agreed that she brings a different dynamic to the competition and they’re all excited to give her another chance.

Santana, who was praised for her contemporary performance this week, wasn’t expected to be up for elimination, the judges said. Luckily, her solo had enough passion to get her through to another week of competition. “Cristina we thought had the fire tonight,” Lythgoe said. “That is what swung us.”

While ten dancers remain safe, the judges were quick to say that they all have room for improvement. “Every week they have to lay it all out there,” Shankman told PEOPLE. “Which doesn’t mean just dance hard. It means open yourself up.”

Michaels wants the dancers to “step it up” next week. “They’re all really good, but it’s the top ten,” she said. “They need to dance like it’s the top ten.” –Mussarat Bata

Tell us: Did the right dancer go home?

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