A week after the non-elimination show, the So You Think You Can Dance judges delivered a double dose of bad news on Thursday, sending Billy Bell and Jose Ruiz packing. Lauren Froderman, who found herself in the bottom three for the first time in the competition, was saved after performing a dazzling contemporary solo. She joins Adechike Torbert, Robert Roldan and Kent Boyd as the season’s final four.
Judge Adam Shankman tells PEOPLE the judges’ unanimous vote followed America’s lead. “Five weeks of being in the bottom says a lot,” Shankman says. “Billy is a brilliant dancer, but America basically voted him out.” While Bell managed to regain some contender status on Wednesday night’s show with two strong routines, his solo Thursday did not persuade the judges to keep him over Froderman, who Nigel Lythgoe said was “too good to lose.”
Lythgoe characterized Bell’s dancing as androgynous, which left many audience members confused. “It’s his own unique style, it’s not male and it’s not female,” Lythgoe tells PEOPLE. “It’s not connected with America.”
Bell tells PEOPLE he wasn’t offended by the comment. “I think it’s kind of fun,” Bell says. “I’ve grown as far as I could each week.”
Ruiz said he’ll leave the competition with new friends, but learning different techniques in a matter of days helped him reach his full potential. “With the styles, it would’ve been hard to keep excelling,” the b-boy said. “So I think in other styles, I reached a peak.”
With the final four entering into the last two weeks of competition, it’s going to be a close race: Lythgoe revealed the difference in the first- and second-place dancer was a little more than one percent.
“The best dancer on this show has never won,” Shankman says. “The best, accessible dancer has won.” –MoMo Zhou