Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin (pic) , the favorites for ice-dancing gold in Vancouver, wowed the crowds with their routine at the European Championships. They sit in the lead after their original dance, a tribute to Australian Aborigines.
Except, Aboriginal leaders don't see it as a tribute. They don't really see how it has anything to do with their culture at all.
"They have got the whole thing wrong," said Stephen Page, artistic director of the respected indigenous group, the Bangarra Dance Company. Page said there were no traditional movements in the routine, the music sounded more like it came from India or Africa than Aboriginal Australia and the body paint looked like "a three-year-old child had drawn it on"... "Probably the elders in the bush would be laughing because they would be saying, 'Look how stupid these fellas are,' " he said.
Domnina and Shabalin are required to do an original dance that is representative of a country's culture. The U.S. pair of Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto, who won silver in Torino, perform a Moldavian folk dance. Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie Davis won the Grand Prix Final with an Indian-inspired dance.
The dances are not required to be strict interpretations of the culture -- they are meant to represent those cultures -- but Domnina and Shabalin completely miss the mark. At this point, it's likely too late for the pair to change their routine. Hopefully, an Australian will be on the panel who judges their original dance, and marks their unauthentic and offensive dances and costumes accordingly.