ISSN 2330-717X

Hindu Group Wants Madrid’s Teatro Real To Drop ‘La Bayadère’ Ballet For Being Culturally Insensitive


A US-based Hindu group is urging prestigious Teatro Real in Madrid (Spain) to withdraw “La Bayadère” from its upcoming 2021-2022 season, which they feel seriously trivializes Eastern religious and other traditions. 

Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA), said that taxpayer-funded Spain’s national opera house like Teatro Real 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 Teatro Real to apologize for such an inappropriate selection. 

Teatro Real, which claims to be “leading institution of the performing arts in Spain” whose first stone was laid in 1818, 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 said. 

It was highly irresponsible for an institution, which describes itself as “one of the most important Spanish cultural institutions” and whose Foundation is chaired by the King and Queen of Spain, 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. Teatro Real could do better than this to serve its diverse stakeholders; Zed stated. 

Rajan Zed suggested Teatro Real Director General Ignacio García-Belenguer Laita, Artistic Director Joan Matabosch Grifoll and Trustees President Gregorio Marañón y Bertrán de Lis 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; renowned companies like Telefonica, Endesa, BMW, Janssen, Coca Cola, American Express, Siemens, Goldman Sachs, Iberia, etc.; should seriously rethink about their partnership with Teatro Real 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 said. 

Makhar Vaziev and Pavel Sorokin are Artistic Director and Conductor respectively of “La Bayadère” (produced by Ballet Bolshói of Moscow), which is scheduled for six performances in the Main Auditorium of Teatro Real from May 17-21, 2022. 

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