Dancing with the Stars has long played it safe when it comes to pairing couples for the season. A male and a female are partnered up no matter how they sexually identify themselves. On Monday night, that barrier was finally broken.
The theme of the night was “Judges Team Up Challenge” where the contestants were split into three teams helmed by Len Goodman, Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli. The judges chose the songs, dance styles and the concept of the piece.
To add a bit of suspense to the challenge, the celebs also had to step away from their partners and dance by themselves in a section of the routine. While this might seem an ordinary part of the DWTS season, what happened in Tonioli’s dance was extraordinary.
The longtime judge picked an Argentine tango, a dance known for its sensual, but powerful, choreography, for Nyle DiMarco and Peta Murgatroyd, along with Jodie Sweetin and Keo Motsepe. The music was the fiery “La Habanera” from the opera, Carmen, and it surely didn’t disappoint.
“Basically what I want within it is girls dancing with girls and boys dancing with boys,” he explained in the video package.
“The four of us are really going to push the limits of what we have ever done,” shared Sweetin.
And that’s exactly what they did. It was hot, it was sexy and it was beautiful.
For the dancers, it wasn’t odd at all.
“This is a Dancing with the Stars first, having same-sex dancing. Dancing with Keo feels no different,” said DiMarco. “He’s just taller and bigger.”
So what took so long for the ABC show to finally feature same-sex dancing?
There was an issue in Season 21 when TMZ reported that the network wouldn’t allow two male dancers to dance with each other to Who Is Fancy's, “Boys Like You.”
The choreographer for the musician was told via email, "Apologies all but this is a definitive no from the network."
This directive reportedly came down from ABC executives in November 2015. By May 2016, all bets were off and the network was finally open to the idea that same-sex couples do indeed dance together.
While this was only one dance, does this open the door for a same-sex couple to appear in Season 23?
It was done six years ago on the Israeli version of DWTS when TV personality Gili Shem Tov was paired with pro dancer Dorit Milman.
Tov talked about her decision to do the show to E! News back in 2010.
“I have realized that dance is about coordination and energy between two people, whether female or male. The challenge to dance with a woman in a public contest interested me because it's unique and has never been done before," she said. "Because I share my life with a woman and have a family with her, to me this is the most natural thing to do."
With marriage equality in all 50 states now, will DWTS follow suit and reflect what is really happening in the United States? Only time will tell.
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