ABC apologises over video of twerking dancers at Australian navy ship launch

Harriet Brewis
Thursday 15 April 2021 10:21
news

Think of a navy ship launch and you probably envisage champagne bottles smashing against hulls, starched uniforms, and some sort of military band.

You don’t imagine women in lycra hotpants, crop tops and red berets twerking in front of veterans.

That is, not unless you were in Sydney on Saturday.

Footage has gone viral of the 101 Doll Squadron dance troupe performing at the launch of the navy’s $2billion warship the HMAS Supply.

But all is not quite as it appeared in national news coverage, Australian broadcaster ABC has been forced to admit.

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It has apologised over its editing of the event, which suggested that the group shook their backsides in front of the navy’s top brass and other VIPs.

An ABC TV clip widely shared on social media appeared to show the chief of the defence force and governor general reacting to the dancers as they performed their energetic routine at the Garden Island naval base.

The defence force was criticised for sanctioning what was largely considered inappropriate entertainment, but it has since insisted that the dance was not part of the official naval ceremony.

And although governor general David Hurley was present at the event, he arrived after the dance show had ended, a spokesperson confirmed to 7News.com.au and other news outlets.

101 Doll Squadron has since hit out at the “deceptive editing” of the news clip, saying they felt “exploited” by the misleading coverage.

“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 shot from angles which could not be seen by the audience,” they said in a statement.

“We found this very creepy.”

The statement also condemned what they believed was the broadcaster’s “need to sexualise these women and their dance piece”.

“These are the images appearing in the media and the ABC have a lot to answer for in making us feel threatened and exploited,” they said.

The dancers said they found ABC’s coverage of their performance “very creepy”

(ABC News)

Contesting the timeline presented in the news clip, the troupe clarified that they had performed before the formal event, and before the dignitaries arrived.

“A short piece taken out of context in what was a very long day performed before the official ceremony and before the arrival of dignitaries, and not part of it,” they confirmed.

“It was in no way meant to be disrespectful and we are hurt and disappointed it has been misconstrued that way.”

The ABC has now apologised over the controversial TV segment, saying a government MP had told the reporters that both the governor general and navy chief were present for performance.

“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,” the statement read.

The ABC has also added a correction to its original story, acknowledging that the video did not reflect the correct chronology of events.

The country’s prime minister Scott Morrison said he was ‘“disappointed” by ABC’s reporting.

“I am disappointed that this event was so misreported. I think that was disrespectful to the performers to suggest the governor general or others were in attendance in that way.

“I think standards have failed and so I think obviously defence will look at these matters and make what changes they wish to in the future. I will leave that to them. It is disappointing that Australians were so misled on that issue.”

The Sydney-based dance group have deleted their Facebook page and made their Instagram account private in the wake of the backlash.

The troupe, who specialise in dancehall and afrobeats, said they had worked on their choreography for Saturday’s event together.

They explained: “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.”

In case you’re interested, here are some more... traditional snaps from the event:

Next time, they navy will probably just stick to a brass band.

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