ACT News


Raider Rogues make pom-pom shake-up promise

They're rogue by name and have promised to be rogue by nature, with the head of the Canberra Raiders' new dance troupe promising a unique experience for fans this year.

But the news has disappointed some, who believe the glamourous performers will do nothing to create a more family-friendly environment at Canberra Stadium.

Rogue Dolls Australia director and owner Melissa Gelonese said she was honoured after being informed on Monday her charges would be taking over the cheerleading entertainment following a try-out session last Friday.

"We have been informed, and we've been successful," Ms Gelonese said.

"We're not going to be as run-of-the-mill as most cheerleaders.

"It's not pom-pom oriented.


"It's original and the NRL haven't seen it … It's very different from what has been previously."

The Gungahlin-based company has offices in Sydney, Gold Coast and soon Melbourne, but Ms Gelonese said the core of the new Raiderettes would be locals.

"They'll be Canberra-based girls - we may from time to time bring some girls down from Sydney," she said.

She said about three-quarters of the girls who danced on Friday were from Canberra, with the rest Sydney-based, with auditions this Sunday in Canberra for further local talent.

A previous holder (with a different company) of the cheerleading contract for the Parramatta Eels, Ms Gelonese said she also intended to introduce a junior and teen squad of Raiderettes to perform at each home game.

Rogue Dolls is promoted on its website as "Australia's most marketable, sensational and stunning dance troupe" and presents a range of production and cabaret shows, with members also able to hired as hostesses, models and brand representatives.

A Raiders member and young mother said she had concerns about Rogue Dolls's tryout success, which a family member - part of the 2013 Raiderettes - had learnt of on Monday afternoon.

''I know there [are] a lot of people that are outraged already by the decision that has just been made,'' the woman said.

''I wouldn't have cared if they were a different squad, but replacing them with a burlesque dance outfit is a bit much, [and] from Sydney.''

''Considering the reasoning for the whole auditioning - to get it more family-friendly - I just don't see how replacing it with them has made it any different.''

''She's probably going to need to tone down her dancers.''

While in November 2012 Rogue Dolls performed Welcome to Burlesque at Canberra Theatre, Ms Gelonese said that was a one-off production.

"We're not burlesque dancers," she said. "They're jazz dancers, classically trained dancers.

"What we did was a production with a theme, which was based on the movie Burlesque.

"We don't do any burlesque work other than that theme."

A Canberra Raiders spokesman said only that a decision was expected to be made in the next week.

"We haven't confirmed who it's going to be," the spokesman said.

Rogue Dolls was one of five dance groups - another being the 2013 Raiderettes - competing for this year's cheerleading role at the tryouts at the Belconnen Raiders Club.

Ms Gelonese promised fans her entertainers would draw attention, even during the usual stampede for a half-time meal.

"I'd encourage the fans to certainly come along to the first game because you're in for a big surprise," she said.

"It'll definitely be something that will stop people lining up at the canteen."


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