Jason Tseng

Vogue Evolution Takes ABDC By Storm

Filed By Jason Tseng | August 19, 2009 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Entertainment, Media
Tags: America's Next Best Dance Crew, dancing boys, MTV, Vogue, Vogue Evolution

America's Best Dance Crew, which is broadcast Sunday nights at 9pm on MTV, is in its fourth season. ABDC.jpgMany of these dance shows that are popping up all over the tube (Dancing with the Stars, So You Think You Can Dance, etc.) espouse very clear gender schemas in their dancers.

Niles Lithgow of So You Think You Can Dance has been criticized by many in the queer camps for kicking off dancers because he likes "men to dance like men and women to dance like women." Other shows like America's Best Dance Crew has been dominated by male b-boy groups. These dance shows tend to be skewed in the favor of male dancers because the physicality, acrobatic tricks, and male physique translates well on television and scales well with the female target audience (exceptions perhaps being Dancing with the Stars, as the Follow is often the focus of ballroom dance). Just look at the numbers: 4/6 of SYTYCD winners have been male and all of ABDC winners have been male groups.

However, this season of ABDC is very visibly about diversity in dance. The producers of the show have only brought on a handful of break-dancing groups, throwing in an eclectic mix of Latin/Hip hop, "Hick-Hop," and most intriguingly... Voguing.

Vogue Evolution, the 6 member dance troupe consisting of some of the New York Ball scene's fiercest voguers, are bringing the queer to primetime. What's even more exciting is that they are being celebrated. The ABDC Judge Panel has been very supportive of the group, stating that they are elated that this underground dance style finally is being showcased on a national platform.

What surprises me is that, contrary to many other reality competition shows like America's Got Talent or American Idol, where transgendered folk, especially transwomen are ridiculed for "attempting" to perform as their chosen gender, Vogue Evolution leading lady Leiyomi, a transwoman, is consistently praised for her femininity. Watch Vogue Evolution tear it up in the videos below:

Week 1:

Week 2:

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Leiyomi is gorgeous, kind, and an extremely skilled dancer.

With that said, it's obvious how unfair the reviewing tends to be in emphasizing her over the obviously effeminate men. She represents female sexuality, and that's what the judges and audience are most comfortable with, and the dances themselves emphasize femalehood in the sexual department.

I will vote for them and follow their neat routines, but I'm still annoyed by how males always get the shaft when it comes to making themselves sexual objects. Massive Monkeys is an all-male band, and you can see how what they got is "You're comfortable with your sexuality". What the hell?

I just wish for once, even among gay men-- who are socailly conditioned to obsess over the interests of females, even if differently from straight males-- the male form could be exposed as beautiful and sexual, and one group could sexualize its male dancers.

One correction: it's Nigel Lythgoe.

Other than that, I agree there is a big gender schema in most every dance show on television, even Dance Your Ass Off despite the fact one of the contestants and one of the judges is gay.

Brings out those feeling of pride, talent, determination and courage. Represent! (Don't forget to vote!!)