With such an amazing group of dancers fighting for a spot in the first fall finale of So You Think You Can Dance, it made sense that Wednesday’s results were surprising.
Despite an injured shoulder that prevented her from competing Tuesday, Ashleigh avoided elimination — and didn’t even end up in the bottom four. And while her husband Ryan did land in the bottom (again), America pushed him through as well.
“There was a huge groundswell of emotion that has swept Ryan and Ashleigh into the finals,” Nigel Lythgoe told PEOPLE backstage after the show, referring to Ryan’s emotional plea to America to consider his wife’s accomplishments so far.
So, after a record 8 million votes, Mollee Gray, 18, the jazz dancer from Upland, Calif., and Jonathan ‘Legacy’ Perez, 28, the b-boy from L.A., missed the final performance show of the season, which because of scheduling, will feature six dancers rather than the usual four.
“If Ashleigh’s injury and Ryan’s plea hadn’t happened, I don’t know who would have been there,” Nigel continued. “Ashleigh and Ryan have both proved that they have both grown in this competition, but Mollee and Legacy are outstanding. I’m really sorry to lose both of them. It just goes to show that we are voting for America’s Favorite dancers and America will be swayed by emotions.”
While it was difficult to gauge Legacy’s reaction to the news (he continued to be a consummate example of humility), Mollee’s teary eyes and restrained look of shock clearly conveyed her surprise after giving what the judges called her best performance of the season on Tuesday’s show.
What about Ashleigh? After an MRI and two separate doctor examinations, she has been cleared to dance in the finale but just to be safe, Mollee will shadow her and if anything goes wrong, “Mollee will be in the finale,” Nigel said.
Next week (barring more injuries), viewers will see married couple Ashleigh and Ryan dancing together and competing for the first time along with Ellenore, Kathryn, Jakob and Russell. The six dancers are not only competing for $250,000 and the title of America’s Favorite Dancer, but also two spots (one for the top male and one for the top female) in the next Academy Awards telecast, which SYTYCD judge Adam Shankman will direct. –Jed Dreben
Tell us: Did America make the right decision? Are you sad to see Mollee and Legacy go? Who should have gone instead? Who could win it all?Kelsey McNeal/FOX