An aboriginal-themed routine by two Russian ice dancers has stirred up a pre-Olympic controversy, with some indigenous Australians blasting the “rip off” of their culture and British Columbia native leaders worrying about the insensitivity of the skaters.
World champions Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin are doing an aboriginal routine for their original dance — complete with brown-toned costumes adorned with leaves and white aboriginal-style markings.
“It’s appalling,” said Bev Manton, chairperson of the Aboriginal Land Council in New South Wales state. “They could have provided more respect to our culture by doing more research.”
Domnina, who won the European dance title with Shabalin last week, has said that they researched their dance by watching online videos of aboriginal dances.
The Russians unveiled the routine at last month’s Russian nationals, and plan to use it again at the Vancouver Olympics, which has worried Canada’s indigenous leaders.
Tewanee Joseph, CEO of the Four Host First Nations, said he would like to meet with the Russian pair ahead of the Olympics.
“I’m just drafting a letter to the Russian couple, and we want to host them and welcome them into our territory, and also help educate them on our protocols when they come in to compete in Vancouver,” Joseph said.