So, Do You Think You Can Dance? Only With A "Diverse" Partner!

Fox TV has a big hit with the show So, Do You Think You Can Dance? (which I'll call SYTYCD for short). The show has just the right mix of soap opera-style drama, flashy theater, and a veneer of sports-style competition between dancers. Dancers come from all across the USA and, in some cases, other countries.

Hundreds of contestants are eliminated from the show in preliminary rounds. After the early contests, the remaining dancers compete until the last man, and woman, is standing.

The dancers are all good at what they do, and, more importantly for TV ratings—they are entertaining.[Watch videos.]

Last week, the top 20 dancers were paired into couples for competition. The following table contains the names of the Top 10 couples who were paired by the judges of the show from the Top 20 dancing contestants. The race and gender of the contestants is very revealing, especially when their demographics are compared to those within the competitive dance community and the U.S. population.

Top 20 Finalists (as of June 22)

The most obvious common denominator among the contestants (besides their youth): 80% of the couples are interracial. Only the first two couples on the list are of the same race. Four of the ten are black-male/white-female pairings while two are white-male/black-female.

Even stranger: there isn't a single same-race minority couple!

The prevalence of interracial partners is quite an anomaly considering that according to the U.S. Census Bureau,[PDF] interracial marriages represent only 5 percent of the total population. Less than 5% of the black population marries 0.4% of the white population, so SYTYCD is seriously skewed compared to the real-world population in the U.S.

My question: why does SYTYCD have so many interracial couples?

SYTYCD producers claim that partners are chosen at random. So it could be mere coincidence that so many couples were interracial.

But there are many skeptics who think the entire selection process is rigged. Is there a political or financial reason Fox chose interracial couplings?

If ratings are any indication, Fox producers aren't making good business decisions. SYTYCD has slumped in the ratings ever since the year 2005 when it was the #1 rated summertime show. In 2010, it had roughly half as many viewers. Interracial relationships don't seem very popular in the U.S., so it's no surprise that shows featuring an intimate activity like dancing—the choreography this season is particularly steamy—aren't going to be shining stars of the ratings game.

If there were a dearth of white guys that can dance, the large number of interracial couples could be the result of minorities crowding white men out of dance competitions. Random selection would mean that interracial couples would be common.

However, the evidence shows that there is no shortage of white males that can dance, so it's far more likely that Fox is playing a Political Correctness game.

One must understand a few basics about dance competitions to understand that there is no shortage of good white male dancers. In the U.S., competitions come in two major flavors: competitive ballroom Dancesport which is a serious nationally-sanctioned sport; and competitive jazz contests that typically allow a wide variety of judging formats and dance styles, such as tap, hip-hop, ballet, etc.

SYTYCD is much closer to a jazz dance contest in terms of style, because most of the show resembles grass roots street dancing —and more importantly the standards for judging champions are about as rigorous as those of  the World Wrestling Federation (WWF).

In all aspects of competitive dance, whites are well represented and in some they dominate. Ballroom dancing is dominated by whites in standard International Ballroom Competition, although skin colors turn noticeably darker in the popular international Latin ballroom competitions. But there is plenty of talent in worldwide competitions for all races to be well represented on a show like SYTYCD. If everything was judged equally, there would be proportionately more white men than there are now.

It's commonly assumed that blacks completely dominate styles like hip-hop. But that stereotype isn't accurate because Whites, Hispanics, and Asians also do very well at competitions—as examples, check out the results at the Buffalo Dance Championships, 2010, look at the pictures of The First Five Crews to compete for MTV's America's Best Dance Crew, or internationally see pictures of the HipHop International World Championships.

In the real world of competitive Dancesport, mixed couples are far rarer than SYTYCD would have its audiences believe. That's because partnerships are chosen for pragmatic reasons of ability and compatibility – not by the whims of Politically Correct TV producers, who have profit motives and political agendas as their first priority. 

I did my own research of random ballroom competitions to see pictures of the couples who are winning competitions. There are many examples to choose from. Since I don't care to do a PhD dissertation, my samples are small, and therefore subject to criticism even though the conclusions are blatant.

First I looked at some excellent Dancesport photos from 2007.

The Vancouver Open 2007 is very interesting because there were two dominant races: Asian and Whites. They rarely mixed however. "The Embassy Ball 2007" competition was much the same except minorities were almost non-existent. Mixed-race couples at both of these events were rare.

Results from the Northwest DanceSport Championship, 2010 show that most of the winners are same race. Links are provided to their pictures but most of you will guess their race by reading their names.  Interestingly the two couples who may be interracial (#4 and #5) don't have pictures that are easy to find on the internet.

Adult Championship Standard

  1. Zillion Wong & Sarah Liang - BC

  2. Ira Pollock & Abby Pollock - CA

  3. Dmitriy Vorobiev & Kseniya Sovenko - WA

  4. Adam Li & Ksenia Michtchenko - BC

  5. Ben Bartholomew & Zoa Lopez - UT

  6. Dr. Angus Sinclair & Susan S. Sidman – CA

As of last week, the field of dancers on SYTYCD has one less same-race couple because Iveta Lukosiute and her partner Nick Young were eliminated. Iveta Lukosiute (pictured below, a blonde  Lithuanian)is arguably the best dancer for this season. Based purely on merit, Iveta was a slam dunk to win—and that was true whether she is viewed as a world class ballroom champion or a diva. Her demise was presaged when Fox producers assigned an obnoxious Indian Bollywood themed dance that was totally out of character for both Iveta and Nick. They did a respectable but not great Bollywood routine. If assigning them a Bollywood routine was a setup, it worked perfectly!

Normally, I never call these shows. But I decided to make an exception to vote for Iveta—and to see what it is like to call a reality TV talent show. Over a 12-hour period of calling multiple times to the phone number reserved for Iveta, I got nothing but busy signals, so voting was impossible. The jammed phone line convinced me that Iveta was being guillotined by the Fox producers. Iveta, at age 30, was the oldest dancer of the 20 finalists, so there may be an age bias issue as well as racial.

I'll admit to having a sour-grapes attitude ever since Iveta Lukosiute was eliminated from the show. But to me the fact that she won't be back this week offers very good proof that the results were rigged—because the producers of the show want the American public to see mixed race couples performing sexy and steamy dancing together.

How odd.

Rob Sanchez (email him) is a Senior Writing Fellow for Californians for Population Stabilization and author of the "Job Destruction Newsletter" (sign up for it here) at www.JobDestruction.com. To make a tax-deductible donation to Rob Sanchez, click here.