As regular readers know, I’m watching the current season of So You Think You Can Dance, the mixed-style dance competition show, and am documenting whether the women are generally expected to show more skin than the men. (I give a more detailed explanation of this project, and why I’m doing it, in my first post in the series.) But before I get into this week’s documentation, I want to answer a question I was asked in the comments last week — namely, what I want the show’s producers and costumers to do about it.
It’s true that having women be more naked than men is the tradition of many dance styles. Similarly, in many past decades of many dance styles, it’s been the tradition for women to show more skin than men. So if a dance routine is in one of those traditions, or if it’s a historical or retro routine evoking a past dance tradition, and if costumers are trying to work within those traditions, then their hands are tied, or at least somewhat constrained. What do I want the costumers to do?
The short answer: I want them to be aware of it. I want them to pay attention to it. I want them to not just reflexively make the women more naked than the men, because that just seems normal or natural or how it’s done. I want them to ask themselves, “Is this really appropriate or necessary for this routine?” I want them to ask themselves, “In this routine, is the man more vulnerable than the woman, or more sexual, or more seductive? Should he maybe be showing more skin than she is?” I want them to at least sometimes show more of the men’s skin than the women’s — not just as a rare exception, but as a regular feature of the show. Even if there’s not strict 50/50 parity, I want something closer to parity — something other than the reflexive expectation that women will be the ones to have their bodies put on display.
I also want a magical rainbow pony who’ll get along with the cats and won’t stink up the house.
So, with that commentary, here is this week’s So You Think You Can Dance nudity parity documentation. Links take you to video clips of the performances; if the Fox network doesn’t keep the links up, most if not all of these performances can be found on YouTube with a little searching.
Introductory performance with all 20 dancers, Broadway
Women somehat more nude than men — women mostly either sleeveless or short sleeves, many with bare legs, men mostly either totally covered or short sleeves.
Tanisha & Rudy, jazz
Woman is somewhat more naked than man (she has bare legs, bare arms, bare upper back, bare sternum, he is shirtless).
Valerie & Ricky, contemporary
Woman is more naked than man (she has bare arms, bare legs, V-neck, he has short sleeves and V-neck).
Bridget & Emilio, hip-hop
Woman is somewhat more naked than man (she has short sleeves, bare midriff, he has short sleeves but somewhat longer than hers).
Editorial comment about the theme of this number, which is “he’s meeting an old friend he hasn’t seen for a while, she used to be a nerd but now she’s hot.” The implication being that you can’t be both. Not if you’re a woman, anyway. Bite me.
Jessica & Nick, West Coast swing
Woman is more naked than man (she has bare arms, bare midriff, bare sternum, bare slash between breasts, he has bare forearms).
Carly & Serge, contemporary
Woman is more naked than man (she has bare arms, bare-ish legs with sheer flippy skirt to knees, deep V-neck, bare midriff, bare back, he has short sleeves).
Emily & Teddy, hip-hop
Woman is more naked than man (she has bare arms, bare midriff, deep V-neck, he has bare forearms).
Malene & Stanley, Broadway
Woman is more naked than man (she has bare legs [sheer stockings, I think], sternum & upper back in sheer black netting, he is completely covered).
Jordan & Marcquet, jazz
Rough nudity parity (she has bare thighs, deep scoop neck, he has bare forearms, deep scoop neck although not as deep as hers).
Editorial comment on costuming: Even though there was rough nudity parity in this routine, her costume was much more sexual than his. In particular, for the scene being enacted (an agent interrogating a suspect), his costume was realistic to the character, ordinary street clothes — while hers was very unrealistically sexualized for the character, a sexy-sexy costumey version of military clothes.
Brookyln & Casey, Argentine tango
Woman is more naked than man (she has bare legs, bare arms, deep V-neck with illusion netting, he is completely covered).
Jacque & Zack, African jazz
Complete nudity parity (both dancers wearing skin-tight bodysuits covering entire body).
Syncopated Ladies, hip-hop dance crew
This season, SYTYCD is having an additional competition between hip-hop dance crews, with one crew performing per week. This week, the crew was the all-women Syncopated Ladies. All dancers were showing a lot of skin, with all but one with bare legs, most with bare midriffs, and all with bare arms. There won’t be a way to compare this with male dancers until a later week with an all-male or mixed-gender dance crew.
In all performances in this episode, either there’s roughly equal skin being shown by both genders, or there’s more skin being shown by women. In total, there is significantly more skin being shown by women. The trend was even more pronounced this week than last week — this week, in only two of the eleven routines (not counting the hip-hop crew routine, which can’t yet be compared, although I can already guess how it’s going to come out) was there rough nudity parity.