Someone saved his life tonight.
So You Think You Can Dance's judges told us that they had picked two entirely different contestants to spare--before one solo performance completely changed their minds.
So whose fate was sealed with a single dance? We've got all the backstage scoop from the judges (including which "dynamite" guest will be joining them at the judges table next week) and reactions from the eliminated dancers themselves...
"Ricky made it easy for us--we were headed down another path," Mary Murphy told us about the judges' last-minute switch.
"When I saw who was in the bottom," Nigel Lythgoe added (the judges had to eliminate four dancers among Ricky and Ryan, Missy and Wadi, and Iveta and Nick), "I was intending in my heart of hearts that we keep Nick and we keep Iveta."
But, said SYTYCD's executive producer and head judge, "I couldn't keep Nick having watched Ricky's performance tonight. We asked them to dance for their lives and the passion that he danced with this evening was just fantastic. It was hard, but we had to let Nick go."
That final decision, Nigel said, "was made a lot easier for me with Ricky's performance. That took the boys out of the equation and let us only really worry about the girls."
It was just a coincidence that Nick's partner, Iveta, was sent home too, insist the judges. "We don't even think about couples at that point--it just worked out like that," Nigel said. Mary was disappointed that ballroom champion Iveta didn't have a partner in her last dance tonight. "Most of the time a ballroom dancer can't pull off a fabulous solo, because what they do best is dance with a partner," she told us.
"None of the girls were that good in the solo," Mary added, "but certainly the two contemporary dancers have an edge when dancing by themselves--and Ryan I do feel had the strongest solo out there."
"With the girls it was more of a question of how well are they going to proceed in the competition," Nigel told us. "It's a waste of time keeping them this week if they're going to be cut next week. So who will grow the most? We had a little discussion and we felt Ryan would grow more."
Although Nigel told us hip-hopper Wadi's solo "wasn't anything near the solo from Twitch or Alex Wong" on previous seasons, Wadi told us, "I felt really good about my solo. I don't know what they wanted me to do--climb up the rafters and probably flip off or something to dance for my life? I had so many other solos in mind but I wanted to represent for Jamaica at least a little bit and show my culture...
"I don't agree with [Nigel saying] I didn't dance for my life," Wadi said, before, well, flipping. "Actually, you know what? He's probably right. I had it in my mind that I love to be here, I love to dance, and if I go home right now, cool; if I don't, yay another week here to spend with everybody. But there are so many other great things that are going to come from this and it's such a great opportunity."
Wadi's partner, Missy, said through tears, "I did dance for my life...I felt good about it and I did the best I could do. That's what we both did on the show. Going home first is what's the hardest."
Speaking of going home, is Wadi taking guest judge Debbie Reynolds up on her invitation? "Yeah, I hope so--where is she?" he said, looking backstage. "I just want to cha-cha with her just a little bit. She's so beautiful. It feels good to hear [praise] from someone who has really been there, it means so much."
Both Wadi and Nick pointed out that no one from last week's bottom three appeared in this week's bottom three. When we asked Nick whether he wished the judges hadn't bunked precedent last week and sent someone home, he said, "Yeah. I think a lot of us had that feeling...maybe they saw something, people they didn't want to cut last week, and they were just waiting for this decision to be made. Maybe they had an easier decision today."
Helping Nigel and Mary's decision making next week is TV and Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth--"a tiny bundle with the biggest personality I know," said Nigel. "I'm delighted that we've got somebody coming next week that's going to draw personalities out of these kids. I've always said the technical side of the dance this year is covered brilliantly by this top 20, but their personalities have got to come out. Even though a lot of them got huge applause and were fabulous last night, I still felt as though emotionally there was nothing there, they were empty."
Do you think the dancers need more personality? Did the judges make the right decision tonight? Shout it out in the comments!