'SYTYCD': Mary Murphy on judging with Neil Patrick Harris and her one great regret


Image Credit: Sergio M. Fernandez

Neil Patrick Harris judges, a fabulous night of dancing, a short sit-down with Jason Gilkison, and my own personal mistake that I regret!

Well, I’m the first one to admit that Sasha should have been on the hot tamale train. I had every intention. It was even in my own notes. But sometimes when you are up there, things happen and you get carried away, and I wanted her to know that I felt she was an all-star in my mind and every bit as good as Twitch. When I look back on past seasons, that will be one of my regrets, and I hope to tell her so. I felt that routine and their chemistry was so hot it was getting close to an X rating. Props to choreographer Christopher Scott for a memorably hot Cha-cha-cha.

I felt the entire show was fantastic, but Desmond and Dwight’s contemporary choreographed number for Jordan and All-Star Brandon was simply amazing. It goes without saying that Brandon is one of my favorite dancers from all eight seasons of the show. But Jordan held her own and produced great work with her amazing flexibility and intent.

So great to have Chelsea Hightower on loan from Dancing With the Stars to be one of our All-Stars. I am so proud of everything she has accomplished, and it was a joy to catch up with her. Her number with Marko received high praise and was choreographed by Jason Gilkison.

The Argentine tango was a smash hit, receiving a standing ovation for choreographers Miriam Larici and Leonardo Barrionuevo. Dancing with All-Star Pasha, Caitlynn was transformed by her sultry tango dancing.


Image Credit: Adam Rose/FOX

Choreographer Tyce Diorio gave us another memorable routine with a walk down a darker road. Another favorite All-Star,¬†Allison Holker, was paired with Ricky, and magic certainly happened before our eyes. Ricky is definitely fighting for this, and with such strong performances, I don’t see him leaving the show.

I caught up with choreographer Jason Gilkison behind the scenes to ask him what was his favorite SYTYCD moment personally from over the years. Without hesitating, he answered season 6: Ryan Delello and Katherine McCormick’s cha-cha to “Put Your Hands on Me.” Until that point, Jason said, Katherine was under the radar, criticized for being too quiet and too sweet. But that night, she was sex on legs and a man-eater. That was a breakthrough night, and from that moment on, Katherine’s dancing had changed in a way you would never forget.

As for celebrity judge, Neil Patrick Harris, he turned to me during the show at one point and said, “I didn’t realize how hard this was going to be. I sit at home and criticize everybody, but in the privacy of my home, it’s so much easier than live on TV.” I said, “Tell me about it, I’ve been doing it for eight seasons!”

And then the final results came in. For the first time, we did not have a bad critique to give to the bottom four, Mitchell, Jordan, Ricky and Clarice. This was the one time where it just went by a gut reaction. We were unanimous in our decision that Clarice and Mitchell should go. But we are happy to say that we will see them again on tour.

As we said goodbye to the contestants, I’m also saying goodbye to my ex husband today, as cancer has taken another special person from my life. Even though our marriage did not work out, we became good friends. I will miss him and I will always love him.


Read more:
‘SYTYCD’ Central
‘SYTYCD’ recap: The Dogg House
And next week’s All-Stars are…

Comments (114 total) Add your comment
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  • Anne

    Very sorry for your loss, Mary. We are huge fans of the show and of yours. All the best.

    • AFan

      I totally agree.

    • Lily

      Agree. Love Mary!

    • hbfihd

      We love you Mary.

    • Lady Reb

      Very sorry for your loss. Good friends are hard to lose. I noticed you didn’t put Sasha on the train either and just knew Cat was going to say something to remind you, lol! Great show! I love it. I loved seeing Twitch again! Ha I’m 57 and in love with Twitch!

  • starr

    i send my sincerest condolences Mary. You are an incredibly strong woman, and thanks for all you have shared with us!

    • Ncdrew

      Yes, the same from me. Stay strong, Mary.

    • Kat

      Same here. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, Mary, and I’m so sorry for your loss.

    • Mem

      I’m so sorry for your loss. My ex is one of my best friends and I understand what a loss this must be.

      • waleed


  • Elizabeth

    *big hug for Mary* thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts from this week. You’ll be in mine.

  • Shannon

    I am very sorry for your loss Mary. You are in my thoughts.

  • Bobby’s Robot

    Sorry for your loss.

  • Bobbi

    So very sorry for your loss, Mary. Cancer is such a vicious disease! I hope you find peace. You both will be in my prayers.

  • Lee

    Mary-since when do the judges get a say in who goes home from the Top Ten, on? Every season you say you are looking for AMERICA’s favorite dancer so the judges should get out of our way and let the audience decide. We clearly want to get rid of Jordan, yet you continue to keep her, its insulting to us.

    • Iroquois

      So true!!!! If you want to continue to have viewers, heed our votes! Otherwise, why would we watch the live show when there are so many other more efficient, commercial-free options like DVR, youtube, fox.com?

    • Nee Nee

      Why do people hate Jordan so much? Is it just because she tries to be sexy? I think she’s a talented dancer. There are worse dancers that are still on the show.

      • Lee

        I never said I hated Jordan. It just seems unfair to kick off Clarice who had only been in the bottom once before, Week 1 and keep Jordan who is in the bottom almost every week.

    • ron

      I’d say, speak for yourself! America has shown on other shows it doesn’t know what good is – just popularity! Jordan is a fantastic dancer – along with everyone left – tough season to send anyone home!!

    • D

      On the other board (recap) they said that they changed this last season.

    • alan of montreal

      I was surprised this was their decision, too, since they gave Clarice a standing ovation but not Jordan

    • Rita_la

      I’m glad the judges get the final say in SYTYCD, at least up until the very end. On that other dancing show I got so tired of seeing better dancers get voted out because of the fan base of the celeb… or their parent!

    • melissa

      Jordan is great. Look at her legs.

  • Marilyn

    My condolences, Mary. And thank you for your comments and your excellent judging.

  • Stef

    I think the judges have done right all season. The Top 10 is exactly who it should have been. One complaint: Can you mention to the director that the hyper-active camera switches are super distracting and annoying when we’ve clearly missed a moment because we weren’t able to see it from the right angle. I notice this every week.

    • Iroquois

      Agreed! The camera work is terrible. It has been this way every season. We want to see the continuity of the dancers as they dance. Work out the camera angles during the dress rehersals for pete’s sake!

      • Ncdrew

        I think the camera work is actually much worse this season. There are way to many long shots, particularly with the group numbers, where the dancers look like ants on the stage. We don’t often see the performers’ faces, especially when they are portraying a character. The lighting also seems “off” this year. Sometimes too dark and then there are the very annoying strobe lights in almost every number.

      • Erica

        I agree with this too – the camerawork is infuriating! It takes away from every routine because the angle is constantly changing. Just put us in the front row and STAY STILL!!!

    • Lesley

      Sending you love and light Mary, so sorry for your loss…love the show and love having you as a judge :)

    • dancefan1000

      Agree. I think the judges make the right decisions and viewers have to remember that we only see what the camera shows us. The judges see rehearsal, get feedback from choreographers, etc. They know who’s not cutting the mustard!

  • Kenny

    Sorry to hear about your loss. Make sure to tell Sasha that she should have been on the hot tamale train next week.

  • Carla Houston

    Mary: so sorry for your loss. Thank you for being the ray of light on the SYTYCD panel, we miss you and your megawatt smile when you are not there. Peace.

  • Sara

    Mary, I am so sorry for your loss. I missed you terribly last season and am so, so, so glad you are judging again. Not the same without you and the “train”.

    • Iroquois

      Sorry for your loss Mary.

  • JB

    My condolences, Mary, sorry to hear this news. And thanks for your honesty and forthrightness in this short article. We always love your judging and the comments that you make. You rock!

  • Peter Goslett

    Thank you for your comments, and thank you for your judging. Please accept my sincere condolences on the loss of your former husband. Regardless of current circumstances, there is always a hole left in your life when a former spouse is taken from you in an untimely fashion, and I wish you God’s love in your time of sorrow.
    Peter G from NYC

  • sun

    Condolences Mary.

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