Okay, I’m probably going to get attacked right and left for this post, but I’ve been receiving a lot of emails asking me if my former dance instructor, the extremely personable and talented (not to mention sexy 🙂 ) Pasha Kovalev, who is now a serious contestant on SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE, is gay or straight. My first thought was, argh, why does it even matter! But then I thought about it and realized, homophobia is totally passe and no one is asking because they want to judge anyone and, although of course it is completely irrelevant to the actual dancing, it does inform your crush on the guy (if you’re a straight female dance fan, which a good number of us are). I mean, you have a different kind of crush depending on whether he’s straight or gay, right?! (mine are usually far worse on the gay ones, but go figure…)
When I first fell big time for this one, my favorite dancer in the world (besides Pasha of course!), I did what everyone living in the 21st Century would do, an internet search of course. And how did my heart drop when I saw this, his cover story in The Advocate! NOOOOOOOO, I must have let out the most horrid cry. We’re never getting married now! (Because of course otherwise we were, since he’s not a big huge famous ballet dancer or anything…) But I have to say, it was far worse finding out this one, my second favorite, was married, and that this one is engaged to be married. After all, I’m never going to have to be jealous of any of Marcelo’s partners (you can’t envy a man; it just doesn’t make any sense).
And reading the Marcelo article of course made me fall in love with him all the more, and realize why he is, as Dance Magazine called him, the guy all the girls want to dance with. He is a big strong warm Brazilian guy, a kind of teddy bear, albeit a gorgeous one — in whose arms could you feel safer or more comfortable and secure?! Of course the actual story of the dance performance that unfolds onstage or TV is not real anyway, but dramatic narrative aside, to me Marcelo and Julie Kent, his frequent partner, are the greatest partnership around today, and that’s precisely because of the way you can tell they feel about each other: it’s obvious they truly love each other as friends and partners, and that’s everything in making a performance come to life!
I’ve never had the opportunity to dance with Marcelo of course 🙁 but in my own experiences, gay men are crazy fun as partners. Straight men are too, but, I dunno, there’s just something about gay men, that IMO, takes some pressure off and just lets you be you. If something gets touched, you know it was an accident, or if something stupid happens like this, or this, it’s not THAT embarrassing! And back to Marcelo briefly (I know, I can never stop talking about him; it’s an illness really…), big warm swoony stage door kisses like this could never happen if the dancer was straight, right — I mean, that might be looked on … just… a little perverted or something.
But, I also think that a dancer’s sexuality, as with all aspects of his or her personal life, though completely irrelevant to the dancing, do, rightly or wrongly, come into play in constructing the dancer’s persona or mystique, should he or she ever become really famous. Joan Acocella, in reading from her latest book at Barnes & Noble recently, said that she thought part of Baryshnikov‘s fame stemmed from his reputation for being a skirt-chaser. The press, she said, just went on a field day with a straight male dancer. I personally think it was more the political situation at the time (he defected from a country we were obsessed with hating after all), because, how does that explain the fame of Nureyev? To me personally, it is Nureyev who is the more intriguing: in addition to dealing with the shock of fame and wealth after having grown up in abject poverty, the horribly difficult decision to defect and leave his family forever behind (his mother was very ill), he also had to deal with societal and political oppression based on his sexuality. And the attacks that he had to endure, of leading a life of “debauchery” in the West while those left behind in his homeland starved, were criticisms I’m sure Baryshnikov never got. And, as for partnerships, please — that between Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn was the stuff legends are made of. For a very good, rather poetic book on this most fascinating of all dancers (IMO) please go here.
Anyway, back to Pasha, and THE QUESTION! Sorry for the long-windedness, I just wanted to make everyone read about all my favorite dancers 🙂 Okay, well, I don’t want to be gossipy, but I feel there is nothing wrong with pointing you all toward something he said on TV on either the first or second episode of the show! Remember! Remember what he said about why he wanted to become a ballroom dancer, what led him to dance in the first place! That’s a pretty good indication 🙂 If you can’t find it anywhere on the show’s website, I’ll give you a hint — it’s the same thing said by this other dance hearthrob on what drew him to ballet in the very fun documentary, “Born to Be Wild,” which if you haven’t seen, you can read his words on that issue here.