Neil Haskell and Kent Boyd
The FOX reality series So You Think You Can Dance can be an incredibly frustrating experience for gay viewers. The stunning choreography and dancing have always impressed. And there have clearly always been some gay male dancers to root for, even if no dancer has ever been expressly out while on the show.
But what can be terribly frustrating is how the judges (in particular Nigel Lythgoe) seem hellbent on playing up the romantic “chemistry” aspect of the couples’ dancing.A lot of the choreographed pieces are eroticized duets. (Rhumba anyone?), and male dancers who fail to look like they want to sexually devour their female partners seem automatically penalized and discounted.
The few times two men actually dance together, the concept is carefully spelled out as not romantic. It’s “Two princes going to war,” “Two beat boys fighting over the same girl,” or “Two regular joes playing baseball!”
But those aren’t the sort of pieces an audience emotionally connects to. To really engage viewers you need passion. And maybe a little sexual tension.
And so it seems as if the straight male dancers automatically have a major leg up in this dance competition.
But something happened on last night’s show that might change that equation moving forward.
Choreographer (and season two contestant) Travis Wall put together a contemporary number for dancers Kent Boyd and Neil Haskell (Kent is competing this year – Neil is a returning “All-Star”), and it gave the audience a taste of what two guys dancing together, passionately, could look like.
The piece brought down the house.
Of course, this being SYTYCD no one could come out and just say the dance was about a bad breakup between two men. In the rehearsal clip in fact, they went out of their way to describe the relationship between the two dancers as “best friends.”