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Same-Sex Ballroom Champions Featured on Tonight's So You Think You Can Dance

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By GLAAD |
September 16, 2009

After getting into hot water with GLAAD over comments made when a same-sex ballroom couple was featured in season five, Fox's So you Think You Can Dance takes another stab at featuring a same-sex pair tonight and the results are a significant improvement.

During the season five audition rounds in May, head judge and producer Nigel Lythgoe gave harsh critique to same-sex ballroom couple Misha Belfer and Mitchell Kiber that focused more on their sexual orientations than on their talent. Additionally, the editing of the episode was problematic: Misha and Mitchell were shown leaving while James Brown was heard singing "This is a man's world, but it would be nothing without a woman or a girl." GLAAD issued a call to action after the episode aired and Lythgoe subsequently issued an apology.

Jacob Jason (l.) and Willem De Vries (r.)

Jacob Jason (l.) and Willem De Vries (r.)

Tonight, same-sex ballroom champions Jacob Jason and Willem De Vries audtion with vastly improved results. In their intro package, Jacob and Willem state that they wanted to audition for SYTYCD despite what happened to Misha and Mitchell to show that there is "a world of same-sex dancers."

Jacob and Willem run the Balliamos Dance Studio in West Hollywood, CA and were just featured on Daniel Leary's "Mores for Gays" video blog for AfterElton.com this past Monday.

(from left) Judges Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy and Mia Michaels

(from left) Judges Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy and Mia Michaels

During tonight's performance Jacob and Willem performed a beautiful routine so genuine it moved Mia Michaels to tears. Michaels and Murphy praised their technique and the emotion that they conveyed. Lythgoe got the last word and said "thank you for showing me that same-sex ballroom dancing can be very strong and very good." We are pleased with the overall tone of the comments and that Lythgoe and the judges responded favorably to GLAAD’s outreach. This outreach will affect how millions of everyday Americans will experience the show. The judges advanced the pair to the choreography round. Tune in tonight to see if they make it to the Vegas semi-finals!

In related news, EW.com reported this morning that openly gay director and choreographer Adam Shankman will be joining SYTYCD as a permanent judge beginning with the Top 20 performance show on October 27. GLAAD applauds So You Think You Can Dance and Fox for adding Shankman to the panel and for giving these openly gay dancers the respect and equal consideration they deserve. We look forward to following the show through its sixth season!

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