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Video: Australian military uses twerking dancers to celebrate $2 billion navy ship’s launch

Ships from the Indian Navy, Royal Australian Navy, and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force approach USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) during Malabar 2020. (Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Markus Castaneda/U.S. Navy)
April 15, 2021

The Australian Royal Navy hired a group of dancers known as 101 Doll Squadron to twerk in front of officials Saturday as part of a celebration commemorating the official launch of a $2 billion navy ship in Woolloomooloo, Sydney, Australia, prompting criticism from those in attendance.

In footage of the event shared on Twitter, seven women dressed in black short-shorts, red crop tops, and berets are seen performing a choreographed routine in front of the crowd.

Phillip Thompson, a former soldier and Liberal MP, told ABC that the performance was inappropriate, particularly considering the officials in attendance.

“Standards in the ADF, and definitely when commissioning a ship, should be a little bit higher than that,” he said. “We’ve got the CDF, we’ve got members of Parliament there, and the Governor-General’s there, I don’t think it’s appropriate to be twerking.”

Since the risqué performance, the dance group’s director Maya Sheridan said they have been “under personal attack on all media platforms.” She also accused ABC of “deceptively editing” video of the event.

“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,” Ms. Sheridan asserted, adding the group “found this very creepy.”

ABC News subsequently released a statement acknowledging the video misrepresented who was present during the dance, noting cut-away shots featuring Governor-General David Hurley, the Chief of the Navy and the Chief of Defense were inaccurate.

“This was incorrect. While the Chief of Defense was present, the Governor-General and the Chief of Navy in fact arrived after the performance,” ABC said.

“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 statement continued. “The video should not have been edited in that way and the ABC apologizes to the Governor-General and the Chief of Navy, and to viewers, for this error.”

The Defense Force released a statement defending the dance group, describing it as an attempt to engage 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.

Australian journalist Josh Butler tweeted the Force’s statement, once again noting the performance happened “prior to the arrival of His Excellency the Governor General.”