Rebecca Gale (Miss
warns against burlesque hysteria, by - 8th September
burlesque show featuring scantily-clad women was probably
not appropriate entertainment for a government-sponsored
science forum, but people shouldn't overreact, Prime
Minister John Howard said on Friday.
government has withdrawn funding for the 17th Australia
New Zealand Climate Forum after top scientists, many
of them women, stormed out of a dinner on Wednesday
night, offended by the organising committee's choice
of burlesque-style entertainment.
Howard said he understood the performance may have
upset some women but "we don't want to overdramatise
sensitive to the view of many women in relation to
this but I do think we shouldn't overreact,"
he told Southern Cross Broadcasting.
has called for an investigation into how the scantily
clad Canberra-based dancers came to be booked for
the function at Old Parliament House.
dancer Rebecca Gale said her balloon dance was only
a bit of traditional satirical burlesque "bump,
grind and shimmy".
was no nudity, and the balloon dance, aimed at appealing
to the climate change scientists, was more cabaret
than anything else, Ms Gale said.
female delegate took offence making others feel uncomfortable,
of them were enjoying it," Ms Gale told the Seven
Network, adding some female delegates were happy to
pop her balloons.
the balloon popping incident, I went down to vintage
corsetry, there was not even midriff on display.
just been blown so far out of proportion."
Labor environment spokesman Anthony Albanese has demanded
an explanation from the government.
think we do need to know the circumstances of how
it occurred, in terms of whether someone in the department
made a decision, who was overseeing the conference,
I think it does need an explanation," Mr Albanese
Gale invited Mr Albanese to her mostly amateur group's
next show in December.
we do is quite satirical," Ms Gale said.
tongue-in-cheek and we are not out to offend people,
our productions we have grandmothers that come and
watch us and they cheer the loudest. It's certainly
not about offending women."
Gale said one of the goals of the group was to empower
the women dancers and their femininity.
of the climate forum have been were forced to issue
a public apology.
events specialist Nicholas Damilats said the entertainment
was far from appropriate.
sort of nudity is going outside the realms of decency,
for a government function at least," Mr Damilats
would recommend a dance group that does not expose
so much nudity."
Albanese said the choice of entertainment proved the
government was not taking the issue of climate change
it comes to climate change the Australian government
has a hands off approach."
Minister Ian Campbell withdrew funding for the forum
on Thursday night.
Albanese said this risked punishing all the forum
withdrawal of funding potentially punishes everyone
who was at the conference," he said.
over a 'couple of dances', by Andree Stephens - 9th
(Credit: The Canberra Times)
a storm in the proverbial D-cup. Even Prime Minister
John Howard is calling for calm. What was meant to
be a bit of titillating fun, has sent government agencies
into a spin, calls for a federal inquiry and the withdrawal
of funding from an annual event.
problem? A balloon-popping burlesque routine that
sent temperatures soaring at a conference on, well,
climate change. And at the eye of the storm is ANU
psychology student Rebecca Gale, who's bewildered
by the response to her performance this week. ''It's
pretty crazy,'' she said yesterday.
feels like it's the Twilight Zone. It just feels so
surreal. All this kerfuffle over a couple of dances.''
Ms Gale, aka Miss Kitka, is the teacher at Canberra's
only burlesque school - House of Burlesque - whose
graduates performed at the 17th Australia New Zealand
Climate Forum dinner at Old Parliament House this
after about 10 minutes into the show, a number of
scientists, many of them women, left the dinner offended
by the choice of entertainment. And where a two-day
climate- change conference fails to make national
headlines, a burlesque routine succeeds. Reports of
the evening led a number of dailies, aired on talkback
radio, and was even given the treatment on several
got chased by Channel Ten,'' Ms Gale said with a chuckle.
''We heard 'how do you feel about the climate, Rebecca,
how do you feel about the climate?' as they were running
away.'' The story, and the outrage, gathered momentum
as federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell pulled
his department's $3000 sponsorship funding from the
forum and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries
and Forestry's Bureau of Rural Sciences also withdrew
its $5000 sponsorship.
Federal Opposition weighed in with a call by Labor's
environment spokesman, Anthony Albanese, for a government
inquiry. Mr Howard, when asked yesterday by Southern
Cross Broadcasting about the incident, said he understood
the performance may have upset some women but ''we
don't want to overdramatise our reaction''. ''My reaction
is, well, probably not appropriate, but I'm not going
to list it for discussion at the next meeting of the
national security committee of Cabinet.'
Ms Gale said the response to the performance was ''just
ridiculous''. ''Look there's no nudity. It's a bit
cheeky, a bit naughty, but it's tongue in cheek,''
she said. ''That balloon dance is taken from The Simpsons
- Mrs Krabappel does it.
totally missed the point you know? She comes out and
sings Fever and pops the balloons.'' Ms Gale, who
performed at the forum dressed in a corset, briefs,
stockings and bra, her mid-section covered in balloons,
invited delegates to ''pop'' her outfit with a pin.
But she was ''frustrated'' that so many people had
described the evening as disgraceful when they were
not even there.
don't know what we did, they haven't seen it. They're
judging purely on - it's like that group hysteria,
everyone jumps on the bandwagon and it just gets out
of control. This is a classic example.
should be an interesting PhD topic,'' the psychology
undergraduate added wryly. Ms Gale said her school
had about 30 students, and the minimum age to enrol
was 20 and went up to 60. ''They're all shapes and
sizes, I've got some boys enrolled as well,'' she
group only began performing publicly this year and
donated the proceeds of its shows to charity. Tuesday
was the first time the dancers had taken a booking
as a ''paid job'', netting about $1000 for their performance.
Ms Gale also stages burlesque dance classes with the
ANU Psychology Society.
certainly not the stereotypical image that people
immediately think. That's probably the biggest disappointment
- that it was jumped on as 'strippers, strippers,
strippers!', because that's feeding the frenzy. It's
more cabaret than anything else anyway.'
The tradition of burlesque - a Victorian-era performance
art - is founded on sexually suggestive humour. In
the past decade the style has had a revival in the
United States and Britain, and its popularity is catching
on in Australia. But Ms Gale noted there also seemed
to be a revival of disapproval.
since the 1930s - when a social crackdown in the US
all but wiped it from the stage - has it attracted
such attention. She said she had empathy for those
who organised the forum dinner, and had decided to
auction her outfit, including balloons, on eBay to
help replenish funding lost from sponsorship withdrawal.
On Thursday an official apology was made to delegates
at the forum's closing session.
intent was light-hearted entertainment,'' an organising
committee statement read. ''In retrospect the choice
of entertainment was inappropriate for the occasion.''
Stateline - 23rd June 2006
Canberra night class with a sexy twist. Catherine
burlesque courses are available through the Psychology
Students' Society at A.N.U.
Contact: email@example.com (Rebecca Gale)