Tonight’s results show begins with a little taste of the Other, as the show often does. One of the things that makes the show so good is the way that we as the audience are exposed to all forms of dance. At the same time, this demanded accessibility changes the dance form itself. Last night’s crumping, for example, exposed viewers to a dance form that most are unfamiliar with (unless, of course, they watched last season). Nigel queryed Jesus, “Where did you learn that in Paso Robles?” “Being mad at the grapes,” he retorts. But of course Jesus learned the dance from the choreographers. What is lost when these dance forms are rendered “accessible,” when crumping becomes “not just scary,” as Nigel remarked? What price is paid for accessibility, and how do we imagine the lives of and claims to authenticity on the part of each dancer?
The show dabbles in Otherness in unproblematic ways, at least to itself. And this makes sense in our multicultural society, where sampling the cultural productions of people unlike ourselves is deemed practically political. But the show is remains haunted by uncertain masculinities, or what we might call the spector of Ricky. In response to Lauren and Neil’s admittedly poor tango, Nigel told us last night, “At least you dance like dudes.” And we get to see him saying the same thing again tonight. Who didn’t dance like a dude? Ricky, of course. Ricky didn’t meet the heterosexualized standard of masculinity, and it is as if Nigel wants to remind us all, all of us who wanted to watch Ricky dance, that at least Neil (who’s masculinity is a bit queer itself, what with the sweater vests and spiked hair) is a “dude.”
And now to the bottom three couples. The big surprise, of course, is that Danny and Anya are in the bottom three instead of Shauna and Cedric. Danny and Anya are clearly a cut above the rest, especially Danny, who can barely contain his laughter? his disappointment? at dancing for his life. What I find curious, however, is the continued pretension that Shauna isn’t even there. The judges assume that people voted for Cedric out of some pity or in response to the judges’ harsh comments and patronizing insistence that he’s taught other street kids that it’s cool to go to dance class. While this was surely the reason behind many votes, why isn’t it possible to vote for Shauna? She was outstanding, and last week’s dance for her life put her on the map. But perhaps John is right: perhaps this is a show about masculinities, about policing them, about redeeming dance from its queer streak.
In the end, Jessie goes home without ceremony, “completely stunned,” and we are given no reason other than “it wasn’t good enough from any of you.” Total silence. But the guys were all outstanding, and the men remain the ones to beat. Jesus goes home, not because he isn’t good, but because the other guys are so good. Jessie’s back to her desk job, and Jesus to the “ghetto.” And this is the problem with letting folks go at this stage of the competition. Everyone is so, so good, that really good dancers are cut.