So You Think You Can Dance: Inside The 'Heated' Elimination Deliberations
07/01/2011 AT 07:00 AM EDT
Three couples – Robert Taylor, Jr. and Miranda Maleski, Caitlyn Lawson and Mitchell Kelly, and Ashley Rich and Chris Koehl – danced for their lives Thursday before the judges decided who would receive the Kiss of Dance death.
The decision was not made easily.
Spoiler Alert: Show results about to be revealed.
"It was a little heated. We all wanted to take up for who we wanted. And it wasn't unanimous," guest judge Kristin Chenoweth told reporters about the decision to eliminate Miranda Maleski, who got the boot along with Robert Taylor, Jr.
The decision to send Miranda home came as a shock to the studio audience, which had been wowed by her solo earlier in the program. After the announcement, those in attendance could be heard whispering, "I can't believe it. She did a really good job." And the judges agreed.
The off-stage deliberation came down to Miranda vs. Ashley and was settled by the judges in a 3-to-1 vote.
"Without question, we all felt she had the best solo tonight. What went against Miranda is that I don't feel she dances with as much emotion," said judge Mary Murphy. "But then we had to go back and look, and I felt Ashley danced better in the duets all season."
And Murphy was not alone in her adoration for Ashley.
"Ashley has a way about her and her face. I always feel like, for her, it is about the character," Chenoweth added. "She wasn't [doing crazy tricks in her solo], but I've also been watching her week-to-week and I know what a great partner she is."
Miranda's lone voice of support among the judges belonged to executive producer Nigel Lythgoe, who was outvoted on the panel that was rounded out by other guest judge Lil' C.
"I'm afraid I love Miranda, I thought she was fabulous," Lythgoe said. "I think Ashley's solo was the weakest tonight. But we loved her jail routine, we've loved her work, and that's what the other three voted on."
This marked the second week in a row that Lythoe bid goodbye to one of his favorite dancers in the competition.
"For all of us, it's not going to get easier," Murphy said of the talent pool's growing stronger and smaller as the season progresses. But Chenoweth was able to find a silver lining in sending Miranda and Robert home.
"They are fellow artists," the Tony- and Emmy-winning star said. "I'll probably be working for them some day."