New Delhi, December 18, 2021: Hindus are urging “The Australian Ballet” to discard “La Bayadère” performance from its “Summertime Ballet Gala”; scheduled for February 17-19, 2022 in Melbourne; 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 “The Australian Ballet”; which receives funding from the Commonwealth, NSW and Victorian Governments; 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 “The Australian Ballet” to apologize for such an inappropriate selection.
“The Australian Ballet”, which claims to be “Australia’s national ballet company”, 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 “Australia’s premiere dance company” “The Australian Ballet” 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. “The Australian Ballet” could do better than this to serve its diverse stakeholders; Zed stated.
Rajan Zed suggested “The Australian Ballet” Artistic Director David Hallberg and Board Chairman Craig Dunn to re-evaluate its 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; “The Australian Ballet” partners like Telstra should seriously rethink about their relationship with “The Australian Ballet” 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 But we are well into 21st century now, and outdated “La Bayadère”, which was first presented in St. Petersburg (Russia) in 1877, is long overdue for permanent retirement from the world stage; Rajan Zed points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.
Established in 1962, the “not-for-profit public company” “The Australian Ballet” claims to offer the nation “transformative experiences” and has toured 37 countries. Summertime Ballet Gala is planned in Margaret Court Arena and its “La Bayadère” portion is arranged by John Lanchbery.