Marquis Cunningham said he was just as surprised that he was eliminated as the studio audience, which gasped and booed at the announcement during last night's live So You Think You Can dance fourth-season broadcast.

"I was surprised.  I wasn't expecting to go home last night and I wasn't expecting to go home this early," Cunningham told Reality TV World during a Friday conference call. 

The 18-year-old lyrical/contemporary dancer from Cumberland, NC who currently resides in New York City and his partner Susie Garcia found themselves among the bottom three couples based on home viewer votes cast immediately following Wednesday night's performance episode.  They were then ousted by the show's three judges after the six dancers each performed a solo routine.

"I wasn't expecting to win, but I definitely wanted to go even further than what I did," he told Reality TV World.  "I was a little taken aback."

Following Cunningham's solo routine, So You Think You Can Dance executive producer and judge Nigel Lythgoe was critical of his use of "tricks" and added that "isn't just what this show is about."

"I felt I didn't do all tricks.  Yes, I will admit there were tricks in there.  You could obviously see that.  But I felt I was also dancing with movement and I was also dancing with technique, as well as with performance and personality," Cunningham told Reality TV World. 

"I don't feel I was all tricks.  I felt I danced with what we were up there to do -- dance for your life, remind us why we asked you to be here and lay everything out and show everything you can do within the 30-second amount of time we had.  I felt I choreographed it to the best of my ability and put just the right amount of tricks around the movement and the flow of the choreography."

Cunningham added he was "very happy" about his solo routine and said he has "no regrets" about it.

"If anything -- if anything -- I would have probably taken out one of the tricks that I did," he told reporters during the conference call.  "For me, I personally believe I only did two tricks.  Tricks in the dance world are considered acrobatic- and gymnastic-type things, and I felt I only did two things under that criteria."

Cunningham was one of the bottom three males along with Thayne Jasperson and Chris Jarosz -- who are also contemporary dancers.  Since Cunningham said there are "definitely a lot of contemporary dancers" in the show's fourth-season cast, he warned them to bring their A-game.

"For the competition to have so many remaining contemporary dancers in it, you have to be strong.  You have to own it -- you have to be there and in the zone.  Along with that and the technique of contemporary, you have to be an amazing person," said Cunningham, adding personality will certainly play a role.

"It's going to be tough because if you don't bring that, they're just going to trim it away because they're going to be like, 'Oh we have contemporary dancers, let's just get rid of the weakest one -- the one that we don't see bringing forward that personality that we need.'"
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As for what's next, Cunningham said he'd like to educate others on how to dance.

"I want to get into teaching a lot as well as performing -- because that's what I love to do," he said.  "But I want to choreograph and I want to start teaching for whoever will have me."

Cunningham said he currently holds the title of Mr. Dance of Florida for Dance Masters of America, and next month he'll be going for national title -- Mr. Dance of America.

"I'm really looking forward to that," he said.