Hindus urge Germany’s Bayerische Staatsoper to drop “La Bayadère”

New Delhi, June 13, 2020: Hindus are urging Bayerische Staatsoper (Bavarian State Opera) in Munich (Germany) to discard its upcoming production of “La Bayadère”; scheduled for May-June 2023; 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 Bayerische Staatsoper, “one of the world’s leading opera houses”, 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 Bayerische Staatsoper to apologize for such an inappropriate selection.

Bayerische Staatsoper 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 Bayerische Staatsoper 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. Bayerische Staatsoper could do better than this to serve its diverse stakeholders; Zed stated.

Rajan Zed also urged Bavarian Ministerpräsident Dr. Markus Söderto to seriously look into this issue of cultural stereotyping by Bayerische Staatsoper.

Zed suggested Bayerische Staatsoper General Manager Serge Dorny and Executive Director Dr. Roland Schwab to re-evaluate its systems and procedures and send its executives for cultural sensitivity training so that such inappropriate stuff did not slip through in the future.

Moreover; Bayerische Staatsoper partners/sponsors like BMW, Siemens, etc., should rethink their relationship with it if it continued with ballets like “La Bayadère”, which trivialized traditions of “others”; Rajan 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 But we are well into the 21st century now, and outdated “La Bayadère”, which was first presented in St. Petersburg (Russia) in 1877, is long overdue for permanent retirement from the world stage; Zed points out.

Bayerische Staatsoper, whose history goes back to 1653, is showcasing two hours 35 minutes long “La Bayadère” in two acts and six scenes on May 26, 27, 29 and June 16, 18 in 2023. Ticket prices go up to €100.

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