Nigel Lythgoe apologies for 'So You think You can Dance' comments
By Reality TV World staff, 05/26/2009
So You Think You Can Dance executive producer and lead judge Nigel Lythgoe had apologized for his reaction to seeing two male dancers audition together during the show's fifth-season auditions in Denver.
"I sincerely regret the fact that I have upset people with the poor word choices and comments I made both during the taping of the So You Think You Can Dance audition and on my personal status update. I am not homophobic and it was extremely upsetting for me to be classed as such," Lythgoe said in a statement released Friday.
"I have been forthright and consistent with my opinion, as a judge, that professional male dancers should move with strength and agility -- like Gene Kelly and Rudolph Nureyev. I now realize how this could be misconstrued," he continued.
"I have been a dancer, and involved in the dance world, for nearly 50 years. Professionally and personally, I believe the sexual orientation of an auditioner or contestant is irrelevant. All that said, the fact that I have unintentionally upset people is distressing to me and it is obvious I have made mistakes that I must learn from. I trust that my humor will be more sensitive and mindful moving forward."
Lythgoe's comments came after the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) had issued a "Call To Action" notice about his audition comments, which aired during Thursday night's broadcast of So You Think You Can Dance's fifth-season premiere, and a series of subsequent twitter.com postings in which he had defended his audition comments on Friday.
So You Think You Can Dance's premiere had featured Misha Belfer, a gay 26-year-old from Denver, CO, and Mitchel Kibel, a straight 26-year-old from Denver, CO, auditioning together with a samba performance.
"This is the first time we've had two guys do a samba for us," Lythgoe was shown telling the pair afterwards. "I don't really know what to say, it was bit like watching Will Ferrell in Blades of Glory, really. And certainly at the end where you both fell on your asses."
"Your styles were good, if I just stick with the dancing, [but] I think you'd probably alienate a lot of our audience," Lythgoe continued. "I don't think I liked it, to be frank. But if we just keep it down to your dancing, rather than you dancing together in this style, I thought you were both good. And strong. So, thank you for coming and sharing a first with us."
Both men were eventually advanced to the audition's "choreography round" which included 22 other dancers but neither one was among the 11 dancers that ended up receiving tickets to the competition's subsequent Las Vegas round.
"You know what, I'd like to see you both dancing with a girl," Lythgoe told the men as he advanced them to the choreography round. "You never know, you might enjoy that too!"
Lythgoe had defended his audition comments and denied being a homophobe in a series of postings on his twitter.com account after the premiere aired.
"I hear I'm taking a beating on the web due to my comments regarding same sex ballroom I thought I was the most accepting of it on the panel?" Lythgoe wrote late on Thursday night. "The same sex ballroom guys did remind me of Blades of Glory. However, I'm not a fan of 'Brokeback' Ballroom."
"I am very sad the word 'homophobe' is being used. That is someone who hates homosexuals. I dislike effeminate dancing! Wake up and listen!" he added later on Friday morning.
"I believe overtly effeminate dancing destroys the opportunity for many male dancers to be supported. Being gay doesn't mean effeminate," he continued in a series of follow-up postings. "We have had same sex dancing on SYTYCD from Season 1. Last year Joshua and Twitch. Before that Mia's Prince's routine with Danny and Neil. I am passionate about dancers and dancing. I am not interested in their sexual preferences only their dancing and performances. Offstage??"