Middle East Features
First female duo in Israel's Dancing with the Stars (News Feature)
By Ofira Koopmans Nov 2, 2010, 21:06 GMT
Neve Ilan, Israel - Gili Shem-Tov and Dorit Milman failed to hide their nervousness as they went through their paces for their first appearance on Israel's version of Dancing with the Stars.
Competing not so much for the title of 'king and queen of the dance floor,' but 'queen and queen of the dance floor,' they were the first ever same-sex duo to appear in the reality show which has become a hit in more than 30 countries.
Sport and news anchor Shem-Tov, 34, hooked up with professional dancer Milman, a few years her senior, for the sixth season of the Israeli version of the original BBC production, Strictly Come Dancing.
The season, which is also scheduled to see a guest appearance by Canada's Pamela Anderson, premiered on Monday night on Israel's Channel 2 television and scored a 28.3 per cent rating, the highest of Israeli television in months, according to the channel.
The same-sex debut took place Tuesday night, where the couple was warmly applauded after their appearance.
The duo are not a couple in real life. Milman, with the show since it first aired in 2005, is heterosexual, while Shem-Tov lives with a woman.
The former basketball player moved a bit woodenly as the couple dress rehearsed their first dance together, especially compared to her professional partner.
'I don't know anything about dancing,' admitted the tall blond.
'I decided to dance with a woman because I live with a woman and raise my one-year-old son with a woman, so I felt it's also natural to dance with a woman.
'This is my way of life.'
She noted: 'I don't have a problem dancing with a man, but for me it's more fascinating and challenging to dance with a woman.
'If by doing that only a few people will be more tolerant and open-minded, then I've achieved my goal
The flood of reactions was mostly positive, including that of her partner, who, smiled Shem-Tov, 'is very excited.'
'She told me that I have a lot of courage doing this and she's very proud.'
There was some criticism, centering mainly on Dancing with the Stars being a show for the whole family, and small children being exposed to a same-sex couple dancing together.
'I don't understand that,' countered Shem-Tov.
Producer Asaf Gil recalled that when Shem-Tov's agent raised the idea, the production had some initial doubts whether 'this was the right move' but after a lot of brainstorming with the franchise owner, concluded that the concept would be 'fascinating.'
'Gili was quite happy to participate, but she did want to dance with a female dancer,' was her agent's 'quite surprising' reply to the casting.
He was 'quite surprised' once again, when told by the show's global distributor BBC Worldwide that this had not been done before.
'When we checked with Dorit, we found that she was not only willing, but very fascinated professionally' to cooperate.
So is there any difference between a traditional and a same-sex dancing couple?
'A lot,' according to the ballroom dancer.
With a regular couple, the man shows masculine and muscular moves, while the woman is more 'sexy and sensual.' The first was lacking in the same-sex performances they put on.
But, she added, 'we continue the courting and being courted. We still show the emotions - of love and hate, of attraction and rejection.'
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