This season of So You Think You Can Dance has seen numerous changes and surprises. Sometimes, what has been most surprising is who has gone home. The judges held some of the power, making the final decision of who to send home from the six dancers with the lowest number of votes.

Still, this week saw America take control of the votes, and it resulted in a surprising elimination. Hayley Erbert and Paul Karmiryan were sent home just shy of the finale. So why did they go home? Let’s take a look at the contributing factors.

So You Think You Can Dance Recap: The Top 6 Dance and 2 Go Home >>>

New Elimination Format

Last season, So You Think You Can Dance lost the second night’s result show. Earlier this summer, fans were angry when the eliminations happened at the beginning of the show. What made it even worse was the fact that the eliminated dancers then had to dance their partnered routine. Awkward! Fans were not amused, and the following week the bottom six dancers were announced at the top of the show, performed their solos and then performed their partnered routines before learning their fate.

How exactly does this format affect the dancers? It is hard to say for certain. If a dancer has a less than stellar performance, their votes may plummet. By the same token, some fans may vote for their favorite dancer without factoring in the most recent performance. Paul’s hip-hop routine with Comfort last week was incredible, yet he still went home.

Who Rocks the Vote?

Paul’s performances were excellent all season, and it seemed a foregone conclusion that he had danced his way into the finale. So what happened? Perhaps fans assumed he was leading the pack and voted for an underdog? Maybe. That would certainly explain the results. In Hayley’s case, all three female dancers were pretty evenly matched.

Dancing Outside Their Comfort Zone

Hayley, who is a contemporary dancer, performed two hip-hop routines, three ballroom dances and one jazz, along with a Broadway and a contemporary routine. She was certainly out of her comfort zone for the majority of the dances and did well in most of them. When Hayley started dancing with the All-Stars, it seemed as if she was overshadowed by her partners. In Paul’s case, he adapted well to all the dances he performed.

Talent vs. Popularity

So You Think You Can Dance selects America’s favorite dancers, not necessarily America’s most talented dancers. Of course, the dancers have talent to spare, but what may be almost as important is personality. Hayley seems more reserved than Amy and Jasmine. As for Paul? He is an excellent technician but lacks the pizzazz of Aaron or Fik-Shun. In the end, being an entertainer counts for a lot in this competition.

Hayley’s Best Moments

Hayley’s amazing Argentine Tango with Leonardo is one of my favorite routines of the season. I loved her and Nico Greetham’s Broadway performance about a gypsy fortune teller. It is a stand-out for that incredible moment when Nico pulls Hayley over him by one leg.

Paul’s Best Moments

Paul’s contemporary routine with partner Makenzie Dustman is about secret lovers. It is emotional and simply gorgeous. I also enjoyed the sizzling cha-cha that paired Paul with All-Star Witney Carson. It nearly melted the television!

So who will kill it in the finale? Keep watching to find out!

So You Think You Can Dance airs Tuesdays at 8pm on FOX.

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(Image courtesy of FOX)

Kim Stempel

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV

Kim has been covering television entertainment since 2013. She is addicted to Real Housewives, Pump Rules, Dancing with the Stars, and many more shows.