‘So You Think You Can Dance’: Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy and Dan Karaty get real

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On Thursday night, “So You Think You Can Dance” lost its first pair of dancers: Jamie Bayard and Rayven Armijo. I caught up with the judges backstage after the show, to find out more about their unanimous decision.

Is it possible that performing first was the kiss of death for Jamie and Rayven?


Dan Karaty: I think being first can work for you and against you… If your performance is great, everyone’s gonna remember it… I don’t think it was placement. I think they screwed it up.

Nigel Lythgoe: Placement is really important. As soon as you’re No. 1, you’ve got to be outstanding so people remember you and hold that thought. As I said tonight, the only memorable thing is when [Rayven] pulled [Jamie’s] pants down, and what worries me a little about that is that we all remember what happened to Janet Jackson, and how that affected everything that happened on television … it was only a bit of fun, however, I recognize that that feeling is there in the country at the moment. You need to be very, very careful.

Which couples from Wednesday’s show were the most memorable?

Nigel Lythgoe: Certainly I thought that Joshua and Katee were. Joshua and Katee were that beautiful routine to ‘No Air.’ It was absolutely beautiful. It’s one of the first times I’ve ever had an emotional experience with a hip-hop routine.

Dan Karaty: Chelsea and Thayne doing their cha-cha. Wow. I just didn’t expect the two of them to come out and blow away the audience like they did. The other one I’d say was Joshua and Katee…. They just had it, and wow. I knew Josh was that good. I didn’t know Katee could do that. She was phenomenal.

Mary Murphy:
For me I think Twitch and Will … and Joshua. Joshua is killin’ it.

When one contestant has a great personality and the other contestant has great technique, how do you decide who gets to stay?

Dan Karaty: It’s always a tough decision when you’re talking about technique versus personality. Both are so important to the show, and we always tell everyone, ‘This is America’s favorite dancer, not necessarily America’s best dancer.’ So which way do you go? It’s so difficult. We just felt like Matt was really just that much of a stronger dancer than Jamie this week, and that’s why we went that way.

Nigel Lythgoe: We do believe in growth on the program, and for me and the other two judges, we believe that Matt will find personality sooner than Jamie’s technique will come up to Matt’s technique. It really is subjective and a balancing act.

Will and Jessica got rave reviews from the judges. Why do you think they landed in the bottom three?

Nigel Lythgoe: I honestly don’t know. Their position in the show was good. She lost her balance a couple of times, and it may have been that, where people said, ‘It wasn’t good enough.’ Maybe they don’t like that style of dance. Maybe neither Will nor Jessica has gotten over their personality for their audience.

Mary Murphy: It’s so early that the public hasn’t latched on to the personalities yet, or how extraordinary they are. A lot of it is just not aired, so we know as judges, but the public just doesn’t have a grasp on how extraordinary Will is.

Dan Karaty: I was really shocked to see them dropped into the bottom three. I don’t know why it happened. The public votes. Hey, ya know, maybe they know better than me, but I don’t think that was necessarily the right decision. They’re both phenomenal dancers, and Will especially. He stands out above the rest. I really feel he does.

-- Stephanie Lysaght