So You Think You Can Dance’s Mary Murphy Defends Jenna, Says She Doesn’t Play Favorites — Exclusive
The competition is heating up on So You Think You Can Dance, and it’s time to start saying goodbye to some of our Season 10 favorites. Last week, the choreographers’ picks outweighed the judged and we had to say goodbye to Mackenzie and Nico, two standout competitors from the start of the season.
But So You Think You Can Dance judge Mary Murphy knows this is just the beginning of the a string of difficult — and emotional — exits. Wetpaint Entertainment chatted with Mary about the tough decision to send Mackenzie home, her so-called “favoritism” toward ballroom dancers, and why she thinks Tucker and Robert’s contemporary piece will go down in SYTYCD history.
Wetpaint Entertainment: Tell me about the decision to send Mackenzie home. Were you outnumbered on that one?
Mary Murphy: Honestly, I was on the fence. To make it clear, I think everybody was. It was 9-5, so my vote, and Nigel’s vote, wouldn’t have even mattered. The choreographers outnumber the judges now, so they ultimately decide who they want to work with, and the choreographers felt strongly that it was Jenna they’d rather work with. But everyone that cast a vote felt deeply for the other person. I love both of them. I think that’s the first time that’s happened this season, where every single person had mixed emotions. Now, with Tucker and Nico, it was unanimous that Tucker should stay.
After that Travis Wall performance, it would have been a shame if Tucker left!
And that’s where the music, the choreographer, the contestant’s chemistry with the All-Star comes into play. It plays a serious role in our decision making. Even though I thought the reptile number was very good and entertaining — I know Nigel didn’t really like it — when you compare it to something that’s so powerful and moving and that memorable, it doesn’t stand a chance. It was a very special night for us because of Robert and his horrific injury. He most likely shouldn’t have even lived through it, and to come back after knee surgery and dance like that, it’s pretty powerful. He had just had another surgery a few weeks ago, and when I got to the set and saw his name on the line-up, I just started crying. Anybody that loves dance, and as dancers, that’s all we want to do is dance, will understand how monumental this moment was for him. It was an amazing number, and it related to what was going on with Travis and his brother [Danny Tidwell] in his life, and it related to Tucker and Robert as well, both having near-death experiences. It’s a piece that will always be remembered. It will be a time in Robert’s life that he’ll never forget.
And the decision not to have any of the bottom four dance for their lives, do you stand by that?
Yeah, I do. We had seen their solos in the last few weeks. All four of them had fallen down into the bottom consistently. What we want to see now is what else they have to offer. And now as we go along, there’s going to be some people who fall down into the bottom who we absolutely need to see their solos because we haven’t seen them before. That will give us a new dimension.
There was something about Mackenzie that never clicked with the audience.
I know! We don’t get it! On a performance level, I was slightly leaning toward Mackenzie. I had one Twitter follower tell me, “Get off your ballroom high horse and stop putting Jenna through.” Usually, I don’t write back to somebody that’s so negative, but I felt compelled to write back and tell them it’s not about ballroom. My vote didn’t even count! I think I’m pretty fair across the board. Do I like ballroom dancing? Yeah! But I like all the different styles. I don’t try to push the ballroom dancers ahead. If I see something I like, regardless of the style, I let them know because of its excellence. I appreciate art at its finest moments; it doesn’t matter what style.
And you’re outnumbered by the choreographers.
Yes, exactly! My vote didn’t even matter in the long run.
Nigel made a great point that Jenna, even though she’s a ballroom dancer, has mastered all other types of dance. She can do anything!
For me, that was the only deciding factor. She can do every other style, including ballroom, which is her secret weapon. And when she has to dance with another contestant, she can help them out with that. It’s important that when they draw ballroom that there’s somebody around who knows what it is and can help them do it. That’s the one thing that Mackenzie didn’t have. The two of them were as equal as pie in everything else, but Jenna has ballroom — and she’s great at it, too.
Now, seeing as this was the first week with the All Stars, did you think any of them overpowered the contestants? I felt like Twitch may have stolen Hayley’s thunder.
I think it can go either way because even as great as Marko was, I feel like Jasmine really stole the show in that Jazz performance. I don’t necessarily think Twitch overshadowed Hayley because I think there could have been — and I hate to say this — better choreography. There could have been so much more for those two. I think Hayley has been pretty much perfect at everything, so if she had different choreography, she would have been able to shine more.
I was a little concerned when they broke up Aaron and Jasmine, but both of them had amazing routines.
Didn’t they? We’re going to miss Amy and Fik-Shun as well. Those two also came out looking really well in their new partnerships. Aaron and Kathryn, though. That was stunning. Did Katheryn outshine Aaron? Yeah, she did, but in a piece like that, she should have. It was all about the man taking care of her and picking her up. It was flawless. it would have been ridiculous if Aaron would have tried to out-dance Kathryn. It had just the right amount of give and take. It was just a joy to watch. Now, Melanie probably did outshine Fik-Shun, but she can’t help herself. [laughs] He hung in there, though!
Do you agree with Mary? Do you think Jenna deserved to stay over Mackenzie? Sound off in the comments!
Catch So You Think You Can Dance on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on FOX.
Crystal Bell is an editor at Wetpaint Entertainment and our resident fan-girl for all things Pretty Little Liars, The Vampire Diaries, Game of Thrones and Once Upon a Time. She speaks fluent geek. Follow her on Twitter and Google+!