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 But we are well into 21st century now, and outdated “La Bayadère”, which was first presented in St. Petersburg (Russia) in 1877, is long overdue for permanent retirement from the world stage; Rajan Zed points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.