Adam Rose/FOX
Mary Murphy
July 29, 2011 AT 01:51 PM EDT

In the eight seasons of So You Think You Can Dance, tonight’s show was the most exciting I’ve ever had. If Lady Gaga wasn’t enough, throw in film director Rob Marshall onto the judging panel! It was so surreal to sit next to celebrities that I admire that have so adored our show from the beginning. You know they are true fans when, during commercial breaks, they are chatting about contestants from season 1. How cool is that? And if the judging panel didn’t do it for you, Ellen DeGeneres, Portia de Rossi, and Katie Holmes were in the audience. I thought for a second that I must be having this crazy dance dream, because as I walked down the hallway after the show, I was greeted by Stevie Nicks. Amazing!

Now, on to the top eight contestants.

It was so great to see all the new all-stars. I haven’t seen Ivan in such a long time; it’s so great to see how his craft grows. I felt Ivan DID outdance Caitlynn in the hip-hop number by Marty Kudelka, but she did do well to keep up. It was also wonderful to see last year’s champion Lauren Froderman back in a Mandy Moore jazz routine starring Tadd. He definitely had the swagger, with moves like Michael Jackson and that Elvis Presley crooner look.

Adam Rose/FOX

Marko’s number with all-star Alison Holier was remarkable, bringing me and Lady Gaga to tears with his tribute to his mother. He has certainly been a shining star throughout this entire season and I will fall off my chair if he does not make it into the finale.

I had a difference of opinion with Lady Gaga over Tabitha and Napoleon’s hip-hop number, starring Marko and Ricky. Lady Gaga felt that this hip-hop style was outdated. I would say the complete opposite. We have had hard-hitting hip-hop for many years, but what Tabitha and Napoleon did was bridge lyrical dancing with hip-hop. That is not outdated, but innovative.

Sonya Tayeh hit it big again with her jazz number, called “Game On,” starring Melanie and Sasha. Talk about game-on, these two girls brought it like no two girls we have ever seen on our show. They are both true professionals. I’m sure if they keep this up, these two girls will reach the finale.

Even though the show showcased the best dancing of the season, we still have to send somebody home. The judges weren’t unanimous when we started our discussion backstage, but we all agreed in both decisions when we came to the judging table. It always throws us for a loop when both contestants don’t deliver a good solo. This was the case with Caitlynn and Jordan. We know they are capable of so much more, but when it gets to this point in the season, it’s easy to get nervous and exhaustion starts to play a factor. We then had to consider their full journey, and we came to the conclusion that Caitlynn barely edged Jordan out of the next round.

I was happily surprised that Ricky did not fall into the bottom. I believe he has been underrated and still has a chance to make it into the finale. With Jess and Tadd, we felt their solos were both amazing, but Tadd gave us something we had never seen before. We like to see the dancers grow, and even though we enjoyed Jess’s solo and think he is an extremely talented dancer, we have seen this type of solo several times before and wanted more. I know it’s hard to say goodbye to contestants — it is for me too — but I do take joy knowing they will be back in a week to rehearse in the top-20 routine during the finale. And that you willl soon see them on the tour.

My favorite moment of the show… When Lady Gaga took her shoe off and threw it at the contestants and then threw her other shoe to choreographer Sonya Tayeh, who in turn gave it to Melanie. Lady Gaga signed both the shoes for Sasha and Melanie. For those girls, it will be a memory they will never forget for the rest of their lives.

Stepping off to D.C. to get everyone dancing on National Dance Day this Saturday!


Read more:

‘SYTYCD’: Who went home…

Melanie LaPatin: Jordan can’t get any better (Can she?)

‘SYTYCD’ recap: The Edge of Glory

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