Indiana Daily Student

COLUMN: The future of ballroom dancing, DWTS breaks ground with same-sex pairing

<p>Singer JoJo Siwa performs on Aug. 13, 2019, at Honda Center in Anaheim, California. </p>

Singer JoJo Siwa performs on Aug. 13, 2019, at Honda Center in Anaheim, California.

In a sea of magenta and teal lights, two women, dressed in plaid, emerge from center stage. A school bell chimes as Britney Spears’ “Oops!... I Did It Again” soundtrack is played across the room. 

Jenna Johnson Chmerkovskiy, 27, and JoJo Siwa, 18, have been making history on “Dancing With The Stars” during the show's 30th season. The two are the first same-sex pairing on the show after running for 16 years . 

Siwa, primarily known for her role in the TV show “Dance Moms,” came out as part of the LGBTQ community through social media in January. 

When I first heard of the pairing, I can honestly say I was ecstatic. Johnson Chmerkovskiy has always been one of my favorite pros, and I found this pairing intriguing, especially considering Siwa has an extensive dance background. 

Johnson Chmerkovskiy and Siwa’s duo, commonly referred to as their team name, #jnation, has had the highest score of the week for both week one and week three. They also tied for highest combined scores for week one and two. They have received high remarks from the judges, and I don’t see them going anywhere just yet due to their high scores and community support shown through social media. 

In competitive ballroom dancing, a partnership is traditionally one man and one woman. The overall rule is simple: the man leads and the woman follows. However, for Johnson Chmerkovskiy and Siwa, they bend the rules. 

Siwa is taller than Johnson Chmerkovskiy, and therefore Johnson Chmerkovskiy fits better into Siwa’s frame than Siwa would in hers. However, Johnson Chmerkovskiy has commented they take it dance by dance to see who will fill each role. 

In 1989, the ABC network lost about $1.5 million in advertising from pull-outs due to a homosexual couple being depicted in the show ''Thirtysomething,'' according to a New York Times article. Following this, the network took a leap 32 years later to include a same-sex partnering in an artform that is rooted in the man-woman ideal. 

On week one, the duo performed a quickstep and on week two did a cha-cha-cha. During last night’s episode, they performed an argentine tango, and it had me on the edge of my seat. 

Having this partnership raises the question if DWTS will continue in future seasons to base partnerships on stars’ preference for partners. I would be intrigued to see a man-man partnership on the show to see how dances with a primarily female focus, such as the rumba, would be executed. 

I commend the show for adding this pairing to the lineup for season 30. It was refreshing to see and hopefully more outlets and ballroom competitions see how these pairings are becoming more accepted and that they can thrive and hold up to the other competitors. 

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