Hindus ask Miami International Ballet Competition to discard culturally-insensitive ballet “La Bayadère”

New Delhi, December 3, 2021: Hindus are urging Miami International Ballet Competition (MIBC), scheduled for January 19-23, to withdraw “La Bayadère” ballet from its repertoire list; which they feel seriously trivializes Eastern religious and other traditions.

Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that non-profit organization like MIBC 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 MIBC to apologize for listing such an inappropriate ballet.

MIBC should have shown some maturity before blessing 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 a group like MIBC to allow 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. MIBC could do better than this to serve its diverse stakeholders; Zed stated.

Rajan Zed suggested MIBC artistic directors Vladimir Issaev and Yanis Pikieris to re-evaluate MIBC systems and procedures and send its staff for cultural sensitivity training so that such an inappropriate stuff did not slip through in the future.

Moreover; establishments like National Endowment for the Arts, Florida Department of State, Miami-Dade County, City of North Miami Beach, etc.; should seriously rethink about their relationship with MIBC 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 But we are well into 21st century now, and outdated “La Bayadère”, which was first presented in St. Petersburg (Russia) in 1877, is long overdue for permanent retirement from the world stage; Rajan Zed points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.

MIBC, whose Mission is “to create an opportunity for young dancers”, is headquartered in North Miami Beach and the Competition is planned to be held at Julius Littman North Miami Beach Performing Arts Theater.

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