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Hindus Urge Russian Ballet Orlando To Drop Culturally Insensitive Ballet ‘La Bayadère’

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Hindus are urging Russian Ballet Orlando (RBO) to withdraw “La Bayadère”; currently scheduled for July 29-31, 2022 in Orlando and Lakeland in Florida; which they feel seriously trivializes Eastern religious and other traditions. 

Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada, said that RBO, “the premier ballet academy in Central Florida” whose season is underwritten in part by the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs; 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 RBO to apologize for such an inappropriate selection. 

Non-profit RBO, which claims to be “one of the pre-eminent ballet organizations in the United States”, 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 irresponsible for a community organization, which claims to “Build Character”, 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. RBO, originally founded in 2000, could do better than this to serve the diverse area communities; Zed stated. 

Rajan Zed suggested RBO Artistic Director and President Katerina Fedotova to re-evaluate its 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 City of Orlando, Florida Department of State, etc., should seriously rethink about their patronage of RBO 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 But we are well into 21st century now, and outdated “La Bayadère”, which was first presented in St. Petersburg (Russia) in 1877, is long overdue for permanent retirement from the world stage; Rajan Zed points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. 

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5 thoughts on “Hindus Urge Russian Ballet Orlando To Drop Culturally Insensitive Ballet ‘La Bayadère’

  • December 5, 2021 at 10:12 pm
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    It might also be time to retire the outdated perspective of Indian culture as being one of the richest on social, artistic, and business values and accept the fact that it is now transforming into a loudest western follower and absorbing the worst parts of the wokerism and cancel culture along the way.

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    • January 4, 2022 at 11:13 am
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      But if La Bayadere got one thing right and it’s that being bound to a temple for the rest of your life could veer into exploitation, especially when you’re a young girl with virtually no understanding of what’s happening as men who are patrons of the temples use you as sex objects.

      Reply
  • January 2, 2022 at 11:21 pm
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    Even if they call it inculturally insensitive, they shouldn’t lose sight of the real message behind La Bayadere’s story and how it relates to their ongoing social problems within Hinduism; the exploitation of lower-caste women within the devadasi system. When Nikiya destroyed the temple in the original version, it drew attention to the exploitative practices of the temples there and how it entraps them.

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    • January 5, 2022 at 7:07 am
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      That’s ancient history. The very same exploited communities enjoy political, social and economic empowerment through state facilitation. So why attempt this now when Hindus are getting more self aware and assertive as a group? Is it a deliberate anti-Hindu, parochial and bigoted agenda?

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      • January 15, 2022 at 2:45 am
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        Yeah, that was my point. Unfortunately, the devadasi practice is still alive and well especially in Dalit communities in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.

        These impoverished communities dedicate their daughters to temples in exchange for money from a wealthy patron, and in turn the individual in turn sexually abuse the devadasi. It’s a terrible system.

        Reply

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