College Dance Team Apologizes For, But Also Defends, Use of Straitjackets in Performance

Robert Morris Dance Team in straitjacket costumesAnd they said we were crazy for posting this story! (Cue the hate emails from people with real mental illness or their family members.)

Usually we report on incidents with high school or college dance teams when their uniforms are too tight or their “lap dance” inspired routine offends some parents. This time though, we have a bunch of young women who thought it would be a good “artistic choice” to wear straitjackets and wear crazy-looking make-up for their routine at a national competition.

And yes, someone in the crowd had a child with some form of mental illness and she was offended. Nothing about the kid being in a straitjacket, just offended.

For their part, the ladies on the Robert Morris University Dance Team (pictured below after escaping the straigtjackets) did apologize for offending anyone, but also defended their choice for the routine. Bravo for them!

Now about that new routine making fun of the Tsunami & Earthquake in Japan last week . . .

Here’s more on the story from the Chicago Tribune:

The Robert Morris University dance team has apologized for any hurt feelings it might have caused by performing in simulated straitjackets, but defended the costume as a legitimate artistic choice. A photo of the team wearing the outfits — which included wild hair, dark eye makeup and chef coats made to look like straitjackets — disturbed local blogger Chrisa Hickey. Her teen son suffers from schizoaffective disorder, and she said the costumes appeared to make light of people with mental illness.

She complained to the university president, who called the costumes inappropriate and said the dance team’s outfits would be subject to administration approval from now on. The team issued a statement saying it was sorry for any offense caused, noting that many of its members have had to deal with issues of mental health in their own lives. But they added that the costume was meant as a metaphor for mental and physical struggle.

“Dance is a form of art and a great outlet of expression, and that is what we were doing as a team,” they said. “We exercised our creative license, and our creative outlet.”

Robert Morris dance team

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