So You Think You Can Dance's judges "went with America's voting," Adam Shankman told us after last night's show, in deciding to send home "brilliant" Billy Bell and the beloved but inexperienced Jose Ruiz.
"America today basically voted Billy out," Adam added.
"It makes me sad because he's so genius. The best dancer on this show has never won—ever. "
Read on to hear more backstage scoop from the judges, Cat Deeley, Jose and (sniff) Billy...
"It was a hard decision to make," Nigel Lythgoe told us, "[but] it wasn't a difficult decision. We took everything into account with what America's been voting...We weren't going to lose Lauren [Froderman] tonight—she's just too good to lose."
(They did lose Lauren—for a second—Wednesday night: "She was dehydrated and collapsed," Nigel said. Host Cat Deeley said, "I literally handed her over to a medic [onstage]—but I know that she's much better today." Whew!)
All the judges agree that Billy is a brilliant dancer—so why isn't America voting for him? Toni Redpath offers her perspective "as a female ballroom dancer": "When I watch Billy, I feel like I'm admiring him from afar... I never felt like I wanted to be involved or be touched or felt or led [by him]. I think in some strange way that's how America responded to him.
"He's ahead of his time," Toni added. "I think he's going to revolutionize dance."
When we asked Billy himself what is wrong with America—seriously, five weeks in a row in the bottom three?!—he laughed, "Nothing's wrong with America! There's no problem with them. Things happen and you roll with punches. I got that comment from Mia—'Win or lose, you are going to be remembered'—and that's enough for me."
Jose acknowledged that he'd reached his limits on the show. "It's hard to teach technique in a matter of days," he told us ruefully.
But Jose and Billy aren't saying their final goodbyes to So You Think You Can Dance yet—they're both joining the SYTYCD 2010 Live Tour. (Tickets went on sale today!) After that, "I'm open to anything and everything," Billy said. "I want to do TV and film stuff, my own choreography, I want to do company work, I want to tour more...everything."
As for the competition, only four dancers remain. After next week's elimination, the favorite will be voted from the final three. "Next week we don't have to worry anybody complaining about the judges' decision," Nigel told us, "because America now takes over."