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Hindus urge Odessa National Theatre to drop culturally insensitive ballet “La Bayadère”

Hindus are urging Odessa National Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre (Ukraine) to withdraw “La Bayadère” ballet; scheduled for September 26; which they feel seriously trivializes Eastern religious and other traditions.

Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that a renowned institution like Odessa National Theatre 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 Odessa National Theatre to apologize for such an inappropriate selection.

Odessa National Theatre, which claims to be “one of the five most beautiful theaters in the world”, 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 establishment like Odessa National Theatre 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. Odessa National Theatre could do better than this to serve its diverse stakeholders; Zed stated.

Rajan Zed suggested Odessa National Theatre Managing Director Nadezhda Babich and Ballet Troup Head Harry Sevoyan to re-evaluate Odessa National Theatre 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; Odessa National Theatre partners like Plaske Cargo, MTB Bank, Boctok Bank, etc., should seriously rethink about their relationship with Odessa National Theatre 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 But we are well into 21st century now, and outdated “La Bayadère”, which was first presented in St. Petersburg (Russia) in 1877, is long overdue for permanent retirement from the world stage; Rajan Zed points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.

Tickets to “La Bayadère”, a two hours 30 minutes ballet in three acts, in Odessa National Theatre cost up to 510 грн each. Igor Shavruk, Igor Сhernetski, Vitaly Kovalchuk are the conductors. “People wearing shorts, sleeveless T-shirts, flip-flops are not allowed in the hall”; website of Odessa National Theatre, “first opera house built in Ukraine”, states.



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