So I think I used to be a fan of "So You Think You Can Dance," a TV talent show that features some very good dancers and some very weird judges. Two weeks ago I lost my appetite for this show when head judge Nigel Lythgoe made some homophobic remarks for which he has since apologized. He also showed a remarkable narrow-mindedness about dance, for which there is no excuse.
Not that I know much about dance, but I can spot calcified prejudice when I see it.
The occasion was a samba performed between two male dancers, one straight and one gay. Okay, they weren't all that good. They fell on their keisters at one point, and their costumes seemed borrowed from a Ukrainian ice-dancing surplus store, but they gave a good effort. But all Lythgoe and the other judges talked about was what parts they were dancing when they had the same parts inside their tights. How could they tell who danced the female role and who danced the male role?
Lythgoe sputtered about how the audience may be alienated, guys should not dance with guys and dancers should not be effeminate. He said it seemed like something from "Blades of Glory." Ha. Ha.
Now to the point. Back in the long-ago '90s, I covered the Gay Games in New York and witnessed a real-life glory of blades. At a ratty rink on Coney Island two male figure skaters from Canada amazed everyone, even the reporter from the staid New York Times, with a complete reinvention of pairs skating. Here were two guys tossing each other up in the air, and catching each other, without regard to the usual muscular male role and projectile female role.
Here was figure skating that said something about the narrowness of gender roles, as well as how stunted all other figure skating is. I imagine dance could use a little such shaking up. It probably happens somewhere other than on TV.
The funny thing is, I always thought Lythgoe was gay. We all need our stereotypes shattered.