By Tom Reilly
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.
"I am offended by the performance and so our other councillors," said Bev Manton, chair of the NSW Land Council 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.
The Sydney-based pair first performed an Aboriginal dance at a Korean competition in 2008--after spending a year in consultation with the indigenous community to ensure their performance, music and costumes respected Aboriginal culture.
If you're going to imitate an indigenous ceremony, at least do some real research. O'Brien and Merriman did it the right way. Domnina and Shabalin did it the wrong way.
For another ice-skating controversy, see Skater Dances "Last of the Mohicans" in a Skimpy Outfit. For similar controversies at beauty pageants, see Miss Peru Wears Bolivian Costume and Pageant Contestant = Sexy Chief.