New Delhi, November 30, 2021: Hindus are urging Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) to withdraw “La Bayadère” ballet from its repertoire list; whose finals are scheduled for April 13-20, 2022 in Tampa (Florida); which they feel seriously trivializes Eastern religious and other traditions.
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that organization like YAGP, which claims to be “world’s largest global network of dance”, 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 Youth America Grand Prix to apologize for listing such an inappropriate ballet.
Youth America Grand Prix, which is reportedly member of UNESCO’s Conseil International de la Danse, 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 Youth America Grand Prix 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. YAGP could do better than this to serve its diverse stakeholders; Zed stated.
Rajan Zed suggested Youth America Grand Prix artistic directors Larissa Saveliev and Gennadi Saveliev and its Board Chair Jeanene Russell Perry to re-evaluate YAGP 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 But we are well into 21st century now, and outdated “La Bayadère”, which was first presented in St. Petersburg (Russia) in 1877, is long overdue for permanent retirement from the world stage; Zed points out.
After “International Ballet Competition” semi-finals in Germany, Japan, Mexico, France, Spain, Italy, South Korea, Ukraine, China, International Virtual Competition, Canada, Pennsylvania, Texas, California, Washington, Florida, Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, Utah, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Missouri, Colorado, Indiana; finals will be held in Tampa starting April 13.
Youth America Grand Prix, launched in 1999 and whose Mission includes “support and develop world-class dancers”, claims to reach over 12,000 dance students annually in 25 US cities and eight international locations. Over 100,000 dancers are said to have participated in YAGP’s workshops, scholarship auditions and master classes worldwide.