A Sydney dance troupe whose performance at the launch of a new $2 billion navy ship was panned as inappropriate have blamed coverage by the ABC and other media for making them feel “threatened” and “unsafe”, after footage of the routine went viral.
The group, known as 101 Doll Squadron, singled out the ABC for what they called “deceptive editing”.
In a widely circulated ABC video, the troupe are seen performing — and at times, “twerking” — in front of stony-faced dignitaries attending the launch of the HMAS Supply in Woolloomooloo.
In a statement, the group’s director Maya Sheridan said they had been “under personal attack on all media platforms” since their performance over the weekend, “and we now feel unsafe”.
“We are very disappointed at the ABC’s deceptive editing of their video piece which cut to guests and dignitaries who were not in attendance and shooting from angles which could not be seen by the audience,” said Ms Sheridan, who added the group “found this very creepy”.
“These are the images appearing in the media and the ABC have a lot to answer for in making us feel threatened and exploited.”
In a statement, the ABC said its video, which appeared in a news story on this website as well as on social media, was edited to include the Governor-General and Chief of Navy due to an incorrect belief that they had been present during the performance.
“ABC News’ original social media video about the Royal Australian Navy’s launch event for HMAS Supply on the weekend featured a performance by dance group 101 Doll Squadron that included cut-away shots showing Governor-General David Hurley, the Chief of Navy and the Chief of Defence observing the performance.
“This was incorrect. While the Chief of Defence was present, the Governor-General and the Chief of Navy in fact arrived after the performance.
“Our reporting team initially believed they were present both because they were shown in footage of the event and because a government MP had said that they were present.
“The video should not have been edited in that way and the ABC apologises to the Governor-General and the Chief of Navy, and to viewers, for this error.
“After the Defence Department confirmed the Governor-General and Chief of Navy had arrived at the event after the performance, the reporting was amended. The report that went to air on the 7pm News bulletin on Wednesday night did not include the footage. The online story has also been updated to make this clear.
“The ABC’s footage of the dance performance was shot in a standard manner, from the same position as other parts of the ceremony.”
Performance ‘taken out of context’
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it was a matter for Defence if the performance was appropriate, but accused the ABC of misleading Australians.
“Obviously, Defence will look at these matters and make whatever changes they wish to in the future, and I’ll leave that to them,” he said.
“But it is disappointing that Australians were so misled on that issue.”
The incident has caused annoyance inside federal government ranks, with one unnamed government frontbencher labelling it a “shitshow”.
In response to the public backlash, the group, who describe themselves as a “squadron of dancehall women facilitating a movement to unite and collaborate”, were forced to deactivate their Facebook page, and restrict their Instagram to private.
Ms Sheridan said the performance had been “taken out of context”, adding that “it was in no way meant to be disrespectful”.
“With Indigenous and multi-racial members from a community-based dance group, the dance itself was made up of choreographic and musical elements that included referencing blessings, the waves of the ocean and our geographical location of where the fresh water meets the sea, to name a few,” Ms Sheridan said.
“It was meant to bring an informal sense of celebration; a gift from one of our community groups to open a modern ship, with a modern dance form.
“A short piece [was] taken out of context in what was a very long day. [The dance was] performed before the official ceremony and before the arrival of dignitaries and not part of it.
“It was in no way meant to be disrespectful and we are hurt and disappointed it has been misconstrued to appear that way.”
‘Nothing but good intentions’
Ms Sheridan said the performance was “one small part” of a longer-term partnership with the Navy and local community, and said those onboard the HMAS Supply had also been “unfairly targeted”.
“We feel for them as they were trying to reach out to the community and had nothing but good intentions,” she said. “A community which is part of their base.”
In a statement, the Defence Force defended the use of dancers, which it described as engaging with the local community.
“HMAS Supply and the Royal Australian Navy are committed to working with Australians from all backgrounds in actively supporting local charities and community groups,” it said.
This content was originally published here.