Asuka Kondoh and Jonathan Platero were the latest hopefuls to head home in So You Think You Can Dance's third week of competition, but the results show wasn't only about the dancers' departures.
At the start of Thursday's show, judge Nigel Lythgoe paid tribute to Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett (who, he said, taught him to make pecan pie) and Michael Jackson. McMahon passed away Tuesday, and Fawcett and Jackson died Thursday. In his tribute to Jackson, Lythgoe said the star opened doors for shows like Dance and inspired generations of dancers.
Speaking to press Friday, Asuka, a Latin ballroom dancer from San Francisco, and Jonathan, a salsa dancer and Florida native, both acknowledged Jackson's influence on their careers.
"Michael definitely would be an inspiration to me to, because I remember ... watching his videos [as a kid]," Jonathan said.
Asuka agreed, adding that she and the other Dance competitors were in "shock" backstage when they learned of Jackson's death. "He changed the dancing world," she said.
Both dancers also discussed their exits from Dance, and what they might do next. For Asuka, whose looks and technique often earned praise from Lythgoe, being axed wasn't a shock after mixed reviews for her edgy Wednesday jazz routine.
"Being on this show, I learned to accept things as they come along, and not expect anything in general," she said. "I just took it.... It could have been any one of us."
In Jonathan's case, Lythgoe called his Wednesday hip-hop number a "Sunday-school picnic," and predicted he'd land in the bottom three.
"It hurt a little bit for him to say that," Jonathan said. "I didn't think he was going to be as tough as he was."
Yet, the newly cut competitors are looking ahead to what's next. Asuka's planning "a weeklong vacation for [her] body and mind," while the dimple-cheeked Jonathan is already thinking about how he could combine his acrobatic and dancing skills on the big screen.
Was it time for Asuka and Jonathan to leave Dance? Who might be the next to go?