Aboriginal Australians are none too pleased with the routine the ice dancing favorites have planned for the Olympics, and it's not hard to see why. Look at them. They look like Mardi Gras came to Ferngully.
Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin wowed the judges at Russian nationals with their routine "based" on Aboriginal dances. Though somehow I doubt most Aboriginal dances include synchronized Biellmann Spins. Indigenous groups are up in arms:
Sol Bellear, from the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council, described the dance as "very offensive". "We see it as stealing Aboriginal culture, and it is yet another example of the Aboriginal culture of Australia being exploited."
The Russian routine includes ceremonial dance steps, performed in costumes adorned with eucalyptus leaves and white swirls representing traditional-style body paint. But the designs, according to Bev Manton, chairwoman of the Land Council, are "no more 'authentic'... than the shiploads of cheap 'Aboriginal' tourist trinkets that pour into our country from overseas".
Does it make things better or worse that the idea was originally conceived by a (non-Indigenous) Australian pair? Though to be fair, that Australian team spent a year in consultation with Aboriginal groups to ensure authenticity. The Russians?
We've watched video clips on the internet of these dances, and it really is like this, complete with the leaves around the knees," Domnina told the ice skating website Golden Skate.
Fair enough. But if we're just going by YouTube, I'd like to propose a routine incorporating those traditional aspects of Russian culture: soccer hooligans, a guy barely dodging a runaway bus, and those students who turned their dorm into a giant Tetris game.
Skating on thin ice: Russians' Aboriginal routine fails to amuse [The Independent]