Reality TV has been a staple part of Australia’s visual diet for the better part of eight years. Since the inception of Big Brother, and locally adapted programs (The Biggest Loser, Australian Idol, Popstars) audiences have been spoon-fed the fishbowl style of programming where “real” people interact, compete and perform.

So You Think You Can Dance Australia is the latest addition and, given its enormous rating success, looks set to be one of the most popular of its genre. Chief judge and Sydney Olympics ceremony choreographer Jason Coleman says that, while he’s a fan of the US dance series, he predicts the quintessentially Australian attitude will make it better viewing here.

“Americans have so much bravado, they’re so fucking out there with the whole ‘I’m so fabulous and everybody look at me’. Australians are much more humble,” he said.

“You are really feeling our show, you really see how invested these dancers are.”

Indeed. Australian contestants are quite happy to share their emotions with the country. There have already been plenty of tantrums and tears amidst the jubilation. It’s entirely appropriate, as an equal mix of emotion, conflict and triumph are the mainstay of reality TV. It appears the producers have done their homework on the contestants and hand-delivered sympathetic stories for the judges to help reveal.

We’ve heard tales of bulimia, poverty and comebacks from life-threatening injury. Coleman says it’s all part of the package. “I’m a fan of the dancing – for me it’s all about the dancing. But we do need to get to know them as people,” he said.

“In the professional world, you leave your problems at the stage door, you come in and you dance as hard as you can. But I think that people [viewers] who aren’t dancers are finding these stories engaging. And I think that’s the mix when you make a TV show like this.”

For queer audiences, the lure of this particular show is palpable. Other programs have had token gay or lesbian contestants (Courtney Act, David Graham, Zach Douglas and Rachel Hogg) whereas dance is Queer City.

Coleman waves the suggestion aside – being gay is no surprise in the dance world, he said, and frankly everyone should just get over it.

“When people first started to talk about the show and they asked ‘is Matt or Jason gay’: shock, fucking horror, the choreographer is gay. Don’t tell me the hairdresser is too, oh my god! Not the stylist! You know what I mean? It’s really no surprise here that there are a few gay boys in a dancing competition,” he said.

On a personal level Coleman says his own sexuality is irrelevant to the show.

“I don’t see being gay as anything to do with it other than, at the end of the day when I go to bed, there’s a hot boy there instead of a hot girl.

However, it has garnered a funny moment or two. In response to a raunchy performance by a female pole dancer, he announced, “You are bringing out the closet heterosexual in me.”

“That was just me being funny and keeping it interesting,” he said. “I’m gay, I’ve got no problem with saying it and particularly to you, because you’re a gay paper, but in the other forums I’m like, ‘Why are we fucking talking about this?’ This is about dancing.”

So You Think You Can Dance Australia screens 6.30pm Sundays and 7.30pm Mondays on Channel Ten.

From bnews – www.bnews.com.au

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