Thursday, August 7, 2008

SYTYCD Fan(s) of the week: Are male dancers sissies?

Some years ago, there was a lot of publicity centered on eating disorders in ballet dancers, and from the number of comments by Nigel about the masculinity of the male dancers (and the comments on his comments), it seems that homophobia is huge issue in the dance community, too.

But is Nigel really a homophobe, or is he just responding to a homophobic audience, anticipating them, and demanding that the guys dancing for him conform to the stereotype of virile, "butch" men, rather than fey, "sissy" men? I was wishing for some gender-bending dances (or "post-gender", as a commenter I quote herein says), but it doesn't look like that's going to happen in the mainstream dance world any time soon.

Consider these comments at AfterElton
Dan McCallum:
I'm not sure either about who's gay, but what is up with Nigel and his homophobia???!!! Is anyone else as annoyed as I am by his constant need to heterosexualize everything? Ugh. In case he doesn't know, the majority of men in the dance world are gay, and the dance world doesn't care and is very accepting of it. Nigel seems to be the anomoly.
Guillermo Serritiello:
One thing that we so agree on is Nigel, but I've beat that dead horse too long. He keeps trying to correlate "gay" with "flamboyant" AND "weak," and says the same tired thing that some of these "types" are not strong enough to do some of the required lifts or play a traditional role. Lots holes in his sweeping generalizations esp. in a field that is opening more and more each day as I see people wanting to see something exotic, organic, and at times even post gender. It also ignored how some gays are so good at play acting.
And then there's Sean Cheesman, a choreographer from Calgary slated to be one of the guest judges for SYTYCD Canada this fall.

In the video, note Sean’s comments to dancers at 3:00
“Crying does not work in this business. Get strong, now”; “Tell your problems to Jesus, because I don’t care”
and at 3:35, when he himself is in tears
[I’m feeling] “emotional now, and it’s because…we all know growing up as a male dancer isn’t easy, and if anybody says male dancers are sissies, they need to watch you dance.”


  1. I read a comment from Nigel regarding his recent breakup with his wife, so I'm assuming he's straight. But he's a little fey, isn't he? He's not exactly butch. I wonder what it was like for him as a male dancer.

  2. I didn't catch any of that. How does complementing a dancer's strength equate to homophobia?

  3. I don't think it does, necessarily, but he's been making comments all season that indicate butch=good, fey=bad. Heteronormative pressure, like.

    Do you remember after Will and Jessica danced Mandy Moore's Lyrical Jazz number (with the blue shirt) and Nigel asked the audience, "who wants to dance with Will?" and then followed it with, "Well, there are almost more girls than guys, so you're safe," to Will.

    Does that qualify as homophobic?


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