Sydney Dance Company is NOT closing – headline bungle causes confusion

An independent dance school in Sydney’s inner west was the topic of several news pieces yesterday, but unfortunate choice of language mistakenly implicated the professional contemporary company, Sydney Dance Company, not the company in question – RG Dance Studio.

The Land Of Yes and The Land Of No
Sydney Dance Company’s The Land Of Yes and The Land Of No

The ABC published a story on RG Dance Studio’s closure, following allegations of sexual offences by dance instructor and founder of the company Grant Davies, with the headline “Sydney dance company closes after founder charged with sexual offences”.

While grammatically correct, the headline led to confusion as it began to appear on twitter, internet searches and, on ABC’s online website. The headline was altered online to read as “RG Dance Studio closes after founder charged with child sex offences”, but the original headline was broadcast on evening television news reports, despite the change online.

The same headline was also picked up by Yahoo 7 Online news and several other internet sites. 

Mayhem ensued, with Sydney Dance Company receiving an inordinate amount of phone calls questioning the headline, which ranked highly in many google searches (internet search engines do not discriminate between capitalisation and lower case letters) and was also circulating across social media networks. 

Following an incredible show of concern and confusion from Sydney Dance Company patrons and supporters, Sydney Dance Company’s Executive Director Anne Dunn issued the following statement:

“We are anticipating an apology from the ABC this morning, for their unfortunate choice of language around this sensitive matter. There is no connection between Sydney Dance Company and RG Dance Studio in Sydney’s inner-west, whose founder is currently under investigation.”

It is possible that the speed at which users read and react online could be a factor in the misunderstanding. AussieTheatre’s Digital Director Matt Edwards warns that fast paced social media interaction can be detrimental, especially if headlines are misleading.

“On Twitter – headlines, and therefore links to articles, are often retweeted before people actually read the article, so it’s the headline that goes viral, not the content” said Edwards.

The ABC have released an editorial note today:

In some of its headlines yesterday concerning the sexual abuse allegations against dance instructor Grant Davies and the subsequent closure of the RG Dance company, the ABC referred to the controversy leading to the closure of “Sydney dance company”. This was intended to be a reference to a Sydney dance company – specifically, RG Dance. The story has absolutely no connection whatsoever to the Sydney Dance Company. The ABC apologises for any confusion or distress caused by the headline and wishes to make it clear that the story has no connection whatsoever to the Sydney Dance Company or anyone associated with it.


Sydney Dance Company, under the Artistic Directorship of Rafael Bonachela is Australia’s leading contemporary dance company. The company have recently announced an international tour across three continents in September/October this year. 

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Erin James

Erin James is's former Editor in Chief and a performer on both stage and screen. Credits include My Fair Lady, South Pacific and The King and I (Opera Australia), Love Never Dies and Cats (Really Useful Group), Blood Brothers (Enda Markey Presents), A Place To Call Home (Foxtel/Channel 7) and the feature film The Little Death (written and directed by Josh Lawson).

Erin James

2 thoughts on “Sydney Dance Company is NOT closing – headline bungle causes confusion

  • That is atrocious. I am a commercial radio news director and we also run a news website. That kind of mistake is something that I would expect – but not accept – from an intern. Where is the editor who is supposed to be overseeing this stuff?

  • WOW. That is a really awful mess-up which could have been easily avoided. Fail, ABC.


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