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Hindus urge Milan’s Teatro alla Scala to drop culturally insensitive ballet “La Bayadère”

Hindus are urging renowned Teatro alla Scala (La Scala) in Milan (Italy) to withdraw “La Bayadère” from its upcoming 2021-22 season, 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 Italy's premier opera house like La Scala 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 La Scala to apologize for such an inappropriate selection.

La Scala, which claims to be “making history since 1778”, 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 highly irresponsible for an institution, whose “Code of Ethics” included “Responsibility towards the community”, 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. La Scala could do better than this to serve its diverse stakeholders; Zed stated.

Rajan Zed suggested La Scala CEO Dominique Meyer and Board Chairman Milan Mayor Giuseppe Sala 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; famed companies like Rolex, BMW, M·A·C Cosmetics, LG Electronics, Bellavista Franciacorta wines, Ferrarelle water, Caffè Borbone, Amedei Tuscany chocolates; should seriously rethink about their partnership with La Scala 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 But we are well into 21st century now, and outdated “La Bayadère”, which was first presented in St. Petersburg (Russia) in 1877, is long overdue for permanent retirement from the world stage; Rajan Zed points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.

Kevin Rhodes is the conductor of “La Bayadère”, ballet in three acts, which is scheduled at La Scala from December 14, 2021 to January 08, 2022. Tickets are priced up to 150€.



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