'Angry' Mia Michaels Says Claims of 'Dance' Racism Are Ridiculous
By Stacy Jenel Smith Posted Aug 10th 2010 01:05PM
'So You Think You Can Dance' judge Mia Michaels has been stung by some of the criticism of her criticism that's broken out in blogs and comment areas since last week's elimination of AdéChiké Torbert (right) on the show -- specifically, remarks to the effect that she has it in for black male dancers.
"It's just ridiculous, honestly. I actually Twittered because there was so much negativity coming at me, because they think I was coming at him for really stupid reasons," she tells PopEater. "I had to make clear that I as a judge, as a person, don't care what somebody looks like. I could care less what color their skin is, or how big they are, what their weight is. I look at their performance. I look at their integrity as an artist. I look at their technicality. I look strictly at that. People are trying to find something that isn't there. They're digging into the wrong areas."
Michaels admits that such comments have made her feel "kind of angry because like, I want to tell them, 'You don't know me. You don't know me at all.' I mean, without getting, you know -- it's just, my friends, my boyfriends, my dancers. Some of the finest dancers that have worked for me are black men and my assistants are black men. People are trying to grab at anything to make a reason why I'm critiquing him as harsh as I do and, it's -- I keep getting this rap, I don't like black male dancers, and anybody who knows me knows that's just hilarious. We crack up."
She mentioned boyfriends. So Michaels has dated black men?
"Yes, I mean, years ago I was engaged to an African American, actually, a Cuban guy," she replies. "I'm open to people. I'm looking for the spirit. I'm looking for the art. I don't care if they're purple green with polka dots. I'm so much deeper than that."
The Emmy-winning choreographer, who has worked with such stars as Madonna, Prince, Celine Dion and Ricky Martin, says of herself, Nigel Lithgoe and Adam Shankman, "As judges, clearly -- clearly -- we've been doing this so long. I started dancing when I was three, started choreographing when I was 15. I've been doing this my entire life and I know what I'm looking at. And what I say, it's an opinion; people can take it or leave it. It's not the bible of dance. For me, AdéChiké was not one of the stronger dancers from the get-go. I honestly don't think he would have been around as long as he was if we hadn't had all the injuries we had this season."
Nevertheless, she stresses that she believes he's a good dancer "and a great young man. He's very strong, an athlete, but he needs a lot of work in the fluidity department and style. He needs to tap into the artistry and the style of dancing."
Michaels, who wants to continue in her role as judge on the hugely-popular Fox show -- which has its season finale episodes Wednesday and Thursday this week -- says, "I've learned a lot, too.
"I've learned that words are very, very important and you have to choose wisely. That's something I've learned this season -- I need to be careful how I deliver my thoughts on a performance and a person. I would by no means ever want to hurt somebody just for the sake of hurting somebody. I would never, ever want that. So when I had come across very harsh on AdéChiké one week, I really took a step back. That was a real learning curve for me and I needed to apologize to him, and I did. I said, 'I'm really sorry if I hurt you or offended you in any way. That was not my intention.'"
Michaels also spoke to AdéChiké after his elimination, she says, and, as anyone would expect, he was disappointed not to make the finale. "But I also told him that he should be very happy, that he should be celebrating that he had gone so far. He's going to do great."
And now the attention turns to the three finalists -- Kent Boyd, Lauren Froderman and Robert Roldan -- one of whom is soon to be named this season's winner.
"You're going to see them at top form for the finale. You know, everybody at the end is just going to go for broke, like really bust a move," Michaels predicts. "They each bring something different. Robert is this humble sweetheart. Kent is the farm boy. And Luaren is this little girl who is like the diva, because she's the only girl standing. I think it's just a personal preference at this point. For me, I would be happy if any one of them won."
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