Hindus are urging Les Arts (Reina Sofía Palace of the Arts) in Valencia (Spain) to withdraw “La Bayadère” ballet; scheduled for June 16-19, 2022; which they feel seriously trivializes Eastern religious and other traditions.
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that taxpayer-funded Les Arts should not be in the business of callously promoting appropriation of traditions, elements and concepts of “others”; and ridiculing entire communities.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, indicated that this deeply problematic ballet was just a blatant belittling of a rich civilization and exhibited 19th-century orientalist attitudes. He also urged Les Arts to apologize for such an inappropriate selection.
Les Arts, a prestigious cultural institution of Valencia, should have shown some maturity before selecting a ballet like “La Bayadère” (The Temple Dancer) displaying Western caricaturing of Eastern heritage and abetting ethnic stereotyping, Rajan Zed noted.
It was highly irresponsible for an institution like Les Arts to choose such a ballet which had been blamed for patronizing flawed mishmash of orientalist stereotypes, dehumanizing cultural portrayal and misrepresentation, offensive and degrading elements, needless appropriation of cultural motifs, essentialism, shallow exoticism, caricaturing, etc. Les Arts could do better than this to serve its diverse stakeholders; Zed stated.
Rajan Zed suggested Les Arts Executive Committee President Sr. Pablo Font de Mora Sainz, General Manager José C. Monforte Albalat, and Artistic Director Jesús Iglesias Noriega to re-evaluate Les Arts systems and procedures and send its executives for cultural sensitivity training so that such an inappropriate stuff did not slip through in the future.
Moreover; companies and individuals supporting Les Arts should seriously rethink about their relationship with Les Arts if it continued with ballets like “La Bayadère”, which trivialized traditions of “others”; Zed added.
Like many others, Hindus also consider ballet as one of the revered art forms which offers richness and depth. But we are well into 21st century now, and outdated “La Bayadère”, which was first presented in St. Petersburg (Russia) in 1877, is long overdue for permanent retirement from the world stage; Rajan Zed points out.
Choreography for this ballet is by Alexey Miroshnichenko.