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Thread: Australian Aborigines Object to portrayal of their dances by DomShabs

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    Wicked Yankee Girl dorispulaski's Avatar
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    Australian Aborigines Object to portrayal of their dances by DomShabs

    http://www.smh.com.au/sport/aborigin...ml?autostart=1

    The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia) reported this on their website. The article is accompanied by a full length video of Domnina & Shabalin's routine. It's of interest to Golden Skaters that the Herald cites the recent GS interview with Domnina and Shabalin, done following their first presentation of their Aborigine OD at Russian Nationals.

    ''I am offended by the performance and so are our other councillors,'' Bev Manton, the chairwoman of the NSW Land Council, said yesterday.

    ''Aboriginal people for very good reason are sensitive about their cultural objects and icons being co-opted by non-Aboriginal people - whether they are from Australia or Russia. ''It's important for people to tread carefully and respectfully when they are depicting somebody else's culture and I don't think this performance does.''
    For those wondering just what the NSW Land Council is, here is their About statement from the above link:

    As the State’s peak representative body in Aboriginal Affairs, the NSW Aboriginal Land Council aims to protect the interests and further the aspirations of its members and the broader Aboriginal community. This site provides up-to-date information on the objectives, services and activities of the NSWALC and its members and information on issues affecting Aboriginal people in NSW and around Australia.
    Ice dance fans may be happy to know that before the video starts, the website puts up a SPORTS logo!! At least in Australia, ice dancing is a sport.

    And it's encouraging to know that ice dance is of enough interest in Australia for a major paper to know what's going on, and to put up an article on their website.
    Last edited by dorispulaski; 01-20-2010 at 01:42 PM.

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    There's a slightly different version of the article on The Age in Australia from the same reporter with additional quotes.

    http://www.theage.com.au/national/ab...0120-mls9.html

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    Dedicated follower of the black line Wicked's Avatar
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    I was wondering how folks in Australia felt about that OD. Can't say I'm surprised to hear their reaction.

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    Former figure skater and HUGE figure skating fan. n_halifax's Avatar
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    Well can you blame them? Dance is very much a part of cultural identity and to perform an inauthentic interpretation of something so important to someone's culture is very much a slap in the face. For all of you North Americans out there, it's like someone from another country singing "The Star Spangled Banner" or "O Canada" and getting the words wrong. I like the fact Domnina/Shabilin have taken an artistic risk and done something very original with their dance (despite the shaky skating) but sincerely do wish they had done their homework as to not have offended a cultural group. Watching some videos, some light reading and working with a choreographer that has experience with this particular type of dance and understands its cultural ties would have all been things they could have done to avoid this bad publicity.

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    Wow, being an Australian myself (although I now live outside the country) I am really surprised that this would get mentioned in the SMH or The Age. People here on GS complain about the broadcasting of skating on TV in their own countries but in Australia we get NONE even on cable/satelite TV until the Olympics when they usually show 5 or so programs. So I am very surprised there was sufficient interest for them to write about the DomShab program!

    On the actual content of these articles, well, I kind of think the Aboriginal communities who have reacted this way are being a bit exclusionist in objecting to non-Indigenous people adopting their culture, but I do think Aboriginal dancing, which isn't really ever done in pairs, doesn't really lend itself to Ice Dance. For me, the DomShab program doesn't work at all.
    Last edited by berrycute; 01-20-2010 at 05:24 PM.

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    Rink Rat i love to skate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by berrycute View Post
    On the actual content of these articles, well, I kind of think the Aboriginal communities who have reacted this way are being a bit exclusionist in objecting to non-Indigenous people adopting their culture, but I do think Aboriginal dancing, which isn't really ever done in pairs, doesn't really lend itself to Ice Dance. For me, the DomShab program doesn't work at all.
    They aren't adopting their culture though, they are doing a very poor interpretation of it - which comes across as offensive.

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    Quote Originally Posted by berrycute View Post
    And I think that if we only are allowed to stick to our own folk cultures then ODs this season would be so limited in creativity and boring.
    I think D/S shouldn't proceed with the current version of their OD, b/c there's already people out there who are offended. And it will only get worse. D/S are facing a possibility of an international scandal.

    Since Oksana & Maxim's OD music isn't even Aboriginal Australian, they better review the entire idea and do some adjustments. They could for instance use Mel Gibson's movie Apocalypto as the departure point, for the music cuts and costume designs. It won't be boring for sure While the resulting dance will be just as authentic as Meryl & Charlie's OD.

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    It's a shame our own national champions, Danielle O'Brien and Greg Merriman didn't qualify for the Olympics (due to illness but that's another story). The reason being, they have also created an Aboriginal themed original dance.

    Their interpretation is far more respectful, and has even drawn comparisons with Isabelle and Paul Duchenay's famous Savage Rites original set pattern from the Calgary Olympics.

    Here is a link to their performance from Worlds in 2008.

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    Go marry the quad if you love it so much DesertRoad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by n_halifax View Post
    For all of you North Americans out there, it's like someone from another country singing "The Star Spangled Banner" or "O Canada" and getting the words wrong.
    Or ya know, like when Peizerat and Anissina skated to a techno remix of Martin Luther King Jr.'s I Have A Dream speech in 2002. That's still an example I love to cite when I explain to non-skating fans how ridiculous figure skating can get (nope, I'm not much of an ambassador for the sport).

    So I clicked on the link just to see how bad this could be, and it is beyond my wildest, most sordid imagination. Those two look like they're drenched in salad. They look like cartoon characters. I think judges should keep in mind how horribly inauthentic it is and how much it flouts the requirements for the OD rhythm this year, and then score them appropriately.

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    Quote Originally Posted by i love to skate View Post
    They aren't adopting their culture though, they are doing a very poor interpretation of it - which comes across as offensive.
    Only if you're easily offended, IMO.

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    Wicked Yankee Girl dorispulaski's Avatar
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    I think the point here is that the aboriginal council in Australia is offended. It's their culture, and they get to decide what is offensive to them.

    Suppose I drew a caricature of you, showing you as obese, bald and drooling, and with crossed eyes and a few blacked out teeth, wearing clothes with huge tears, rips and patches. You tell me it's offensive to you; you don't look like that. I tell you to get over it, and you smile and make nice? Maybe you, but not me..

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    Quote Originally Posted by dorispulaski View Post
    I think the point here is that the aboriginal council in Australia is offended. It's their culture, and they get to decide what is offensive to them.

    Suppose I drew a caricature of you, showing you as obese, bald and drooling, and with crossed eyes and a few blacked out teeth, wearing clothes with huge tears, rips and patches. You tell me it's offensive to you; you don't look like that. I tell you to get over it, and you smile and make nice? Maybe you, but not me..
    I don't think your analogy fits at all. For starters, why did you draw the caricature? It would seem the only explanation would be to hurt my feelings. Do you think DomShab created that OD to hurt the feelings of Aboriginal Australians? I think not. They are performing an ice dance, they are not writing an anthropology essay! They never promised 100% cultural authenticity, did they? The thought never crossed my mind while watching that program that this would be an accurate depiction of Indigenous Australian dances. Now, I personally don't like DomShab's OD for aesthetic reasons, but this makes me think they should keep right on performing it and the Aboriginal councils can keep on being offended if they want to.

    Quote Originally Posted by dorispulaski View Post
    I think the point here is that the aboriginal council in Australia is offended. It's their culture, and they get to decide what is offensive to them.
    PS Yes, they get to decide when they get offended, but I think I get to decide for myself what I think of their decision to be offended. I don't think it's fair or helpful of you or anyone else to discount my opinion because I am not Aboriginal myself.
    Last edited by Tonichelle; 01-20-2010 at 10:46 PM. Reason: please edit your original post, or use the multiquote feature in the future to keep from double posting :) thanks.

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    Go marry the quad if you love it so much DesertRoad's Avatar
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    Offensive is good. Offensive is great, even. I love offensive. But even if this is offensive to some people, the real problem is that it's just bad. It's a theme park ride's version of native culture. I expect D/S to go "Ooga booga!" at any moment during the performance. They're about to take this embarrassing mess to the most public stage of figure skating: the Olympics. And they've got a good shot of winning gold with it, too. But then, shame has always come in short supply among ice dancers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DesertRoad View Post
    Offensive is good. Offensive is great, even. I love offensive. But even if this is offensive to some people, the real problem is that it's just bad. It's a theme park ride's version of native culture. I expect D/S to go "Ooga booga!" at any moment during the performance. They're about to take this embarrassing mess to the most public stage of figure skating: the Olympics. And they've got a good shot of winning gold with it, too. But then, shame has always come in short supply among ice dancers.
    That's pretty much how I feel about it! It is a total hot mess of a program but I don't really think getting offended by it matters much.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DesertRoad View Post
    Offensive is good. Offensive is great, even. I love offensive. But even if this is offensive to some people, the real problem is that it's just bad. It's a theme park ride's version of native culture. I expect D/S to go "Ooga booga!" at any moment during the performance. They're about to take this embarrassing mess to the most public stage of figure skating: the Olympics. And they've got a good shot of winning gold with it, too. But then, shame has always come in short supply among ice dancers.
    Exactly, and considering the First Nations culture is playing a very large part in these Olympics the backlash could be huge and would bring an unnecessary conflict to the Games.

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