Amidst all of the kerfluffle over the casting of both a gay man (Carson Kressley) and a transgender man (Chaz Bono) in the 13th season of "Dancing With the Stars," an old question has been raised again: Isn't it time for this top-rated series to allow for same-gender dance partners?
Not going to happen, said executive producer Conrad Green.
"We've discussed (such) pairings in the past," he continued, perhaps referring to the offer made to Portia de Rossi in 2010 for the real-life Mrs. Ellen DeGeneres to be paired with a woman on the show. (De Rossi said no.) "But the traditional role in ballroom (dancing) is for men to have a female partner, so that's what we'll do."
The question goes to the heart of what professional-style dancing is. In clubs or on private occasions, without judges or cameras, same-sex dance partners are no big deal. But when it comes to the formalized expression of dance, says senior producer Deena Katz, it's a different story.
"I'm surprised when people get upset about the partnering," she said. "This is not a social dancing show, it's a dancing competition. A man should dance with a woman, no matter what your sexual orientation, in ballroom. If I'd put Chaz with Mark (Ballas), for example, it would have looked like I was trying to make controversy. We're not setting people up on dates."
Still, "Dancing With the Stars" has featured a same-sex couple dancing -- on the Israeli version, in 2010. Katz said that's when they started feeling the heat about opening up the floor to a shared-gender pairing.
"On our show, a man dances with a woman," she stated. "There's a male part to the dance -- he's the picture frame -- and the woman is the picture. Never say never, but it really is about a man and a woman dancing these dances together."
The 13th season of “Dancing With the Stars” premieres Sept. 19 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.
Should the "Dancing" producers be less rigid about mixing the genders?