Russian twerking redux: Women jailed for ‘inappropriate’ dancing next to WWII memorial (VIDEO)
Three young women in southern Russia will serve up to 15 days in prison, on charges of hooliganism, after posting a video of themselves performing the hip-hop dance on YouTube, with a war memorial looming in the background.
Two more of the six women in the video had their punishments reduced to a fine, for health reasons. One of the dancers was under 16, and avoided punishment, which was transferred to her mother, who was reprimanded for failing to “carry out measures to ensure the proper physical, intellectual, psychological, spiritual and moral development of the child," a court in the city of Novorossiysk ruled on Saturday.
Russian news website LifeNews reported that after the video first surfaced earlier this week, it was brought to the attention of the mayor of Novorossiysk, where the women reside, who was “outraged” and personally charged officials with identifying the names of the performers, who posted the video to bring new recruits to their modern dance school.
“We condemn these women. Every inch of this land is covered in blood. It is inappropriate,” said Viktoriya Dikaya, the press secretary for the city’s education department.
Prosecutors in Novorossiysk said they are conducting sweeping checks at the institutions were the twerkers, who were all under 30, are enrolled, to make sure they are in compliance with “programs aimed at ensuring respect for the law among their members.”
The Malaya Zemlya memorial, completed in 1982, which is seen behind the twerkers, commemorates a battle to free Novorossiysk from German occupation in 1943.
The response to the twerking video, appears to have taken root from two widely-discussed controversies.
Pussy Riot, a Russian punk rock protest group, performed a dance and anti-Putin song in Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral in 2011, and were similarly imprisoned for hooliganism, albeit for much lengthier terms. A society-wide debate followed on the limits of free expression, and what constitutes desecration.
With the 70th anniversary of the Victory Day only weeks away, and piety towards World War II at an all-time high, the twerking performance could be viewed in a similar light, although the dancers apparently exhibited no political intent in their gesture.
The second issue appears to be a new-found intolerance for twerking among Russian officials, despite the dance being taught to thousands of youths throughout the country. A suggestive twerking video performed by teenagers in front of their parents in Orenburg earlier this month, led to a federal investigation for “lewdness,” with the Russia’s children’s ombudsman calling the choreographers “swine.” City officials soon officially shut the dance school that put together the routine. In one notable difference with the current case, most of the twerkers in Orenburg were underage.
Parallels have also been drawn in the media with the Soviet era, when the authorities disapproved of boogie-woogie, the foxtrot and other “ideologically alien” dances.