Monday, 25 January 2010

When Ignorance and Disrespect Collide.

In spite of the fact that I've often watched ice dancing/skating events on television - a not-so-secret-vice/indulgence - I'm not sure what the technical term is for the above. A double klutz supported by cultural ignorance?

The judges' panel may have given them high marks, but the oddly designed clothing, free-form "jungle" moves and world fusion music chosen by Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin have offended a great number of people.

In dark-toned bodysuits, complete with what they claim are authentic Aboriginal paint markings, the pair easily won their national ice dance competition three weeks ago at their first performance of the routine, making them favourites for gold. But while the judges in St Petersburg may have been impressed, many in the Aboriginal community are not. [...]

Domnina, 25, and Shabalin, 27, they recently spoke to ice-skating website Golden Skate about their motivations for the dance. [...] Asked about their research of Aboriginal culture, Domnina said: ''We've watched video clips on the internet of these dances and it is really like this - complete with the leaves around the knees.''

The music the Russians perform to has also raised questions. Ice-skating fans have identified the track as being composed by Sheila Chandra, a Briton of Indian descent. [Asian Indian, that is.]

From here. And more:

The Four Host First Nations that are helping Olympic organizers sponsor the 2010 Games have asked to meet with a pair of Russian skaters who have been criticized for wearing loin cloths and dark-skin bodysuits in their dance routine. [...] "My first reaction is that I feel really disheartened that this took place, particularly given how the indigenous people in Australia feel about it," Tewanee Joseph, CEO of the Four Host First Nations, said yesterday. [...]

"They are coming into our territory. They should feel comfortable here but at the same time, we want to educate them on our culture [...]

Victor Kraatz, a world champion ice dancer from Vancouver, said he felt the Russians had "decided to go a little bit Hollywood'' in their depiction of the Aboriginal dance and that they had "dumbed down a little bit" the character of the dance.

Oh noes! Dumbed down the culture of First Nations and Aboriginal people. Like that rarely happens. For a good blogpost regarding the deliberate and hypocritical misrepresentation of Aboriginal people, go read stageleft.
However, Olympic judges don't subtract performance points when athletes' ignorance and disrespect are displayed.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dammit Janet!

Why give the Russians any help? Let them fail. Victor Kraatz STFU!

Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir have put up the numbers to be favourites. I'd much prefer to see them win. The officials have just banned their famous "Goose" so they need all the help they can get.

Not that this Russian team was involved but... are we forgetting that the French and Russian judges colluded to deny another Canadian team, Salé & Pelletier, the gold in 2002?

And those side by side spins? They're twizzles.


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