No matter whom a dancer is partnered with, or how good they’ve danced before, ending up in the bottom three is just one “hip-not” routine away on this season of So You Think You Can Dance. On Thursday’s results show, a complete switcheroo took place when two of the previous week’s downers went up while three consistently top couples ended up dancing for their lives.
In the end, it was a tough call for the judges — and a nail-biter for the fans — with top twosomes like Ashley and Kupono, Max and Kayla and Jason and Caitlin ending up in the bottom, leaving everyone guessing as to who would be safe and who would be cut.
This time around was “not unanimous,” a stoic Nigel pointed out, adding, it “just goes to show the quality of work that we are going to have to lose.” In the end, 22-year-old contemporary dancer Ashley Valerio, who gave a “no substance” solo, and Russian-born ballroom dancer Max Kapitannikov, 26, who’s pretty much gone two-for-two with his partner Kayla, picked the shorter straw this week, and as musical guest, Kristinia DeBarge fittingly sang onstage, it was time for them to say “Goodbye.”
Voters rewarded hard work in couples Asuka and Vitolio, who danced a beautiful waltz, and Jonathan and Karla, who performed a contemporary piece by SYTYCD Canada‘s Stacey Tookey, keeping them out of the bottom three.
“That’s one of the great things about the show and I think we’re happy when that happens,” judge Mary Murphy told PEOPLE after the show. “When we’ve praised somebody that had been down in the bottom, usually they just stay down there . . . and the audience embodied both of those couples and elevated them. I was shocked that they also said, ‘Yeah, that got to me . . . I’m actually getting get up off the couch and I’m going to call for them.'”
But popularity still counts for something. Phillip Chbeeb, the phenomenal popper, and his partner Jeanine Mason stayed out of the bottom three, despite getting low marks from the judges for a tango that fell flat. It’s still good to have fans, according to Murphy, who said, “I think everybody clearly could see that that was not the best routine of the night.”
A final note: congratulations to Evan Kasprzak‘s brother Ryan, who already made it through to Vegas on fall’s season 6 of SYTYCD, and a speedy recovery to Kayla, who appeared to have injured herself during her solo and was limping backstage after the show. — Jed Dreben
Tell us: Did American make the right decision in sending home Ashley and Max?Michael Caulfield/WireImage