New Delhi, November 8, 2021: Hindus are urging the Brook Theatre in Chatham (England) to withdraw “La Bayadère” ballet; scheduled for March 25-27, 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 and Council run institution like Brook Theatre 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 Brook Theatre to apologize for such an inappropriate offering.
Brook Theatre (and through it the Medway Council), which boasts of “stunning Victorian architecture”, 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 an establishment like Brook Theatre 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. Brook Theatre could do better than this to serve its diverse stakeholders; Zed stated.
Rajan Zed suggested Medway Mayor Jan Aldous and Council to re-evaluate Brook Theatre systems and procedures and send its staff for cultural sensitivity training so that such an inappropriate stuff did not slip through in the future.
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 But we are well into 21st century now, and outdated “La Bayadère”, which was first presented in St. Petersburg (Russia) in 1877, is long overdue for permanent retirement from the world stage; Rajan Zed points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.
Tickets to this “story of love, betrayal and forgiveness” in Brook Theatre cost up to £13 each.