Hindus urge Germany’s Semperoper Dresden to drop culturally insensitive ballet ‘La Bayadère’

The Hindus urge Semperoper Dresden (Germany) to abandon its next production of “La Bayadère”; scheduled from February 15 to March 05, 2023; which they say seriously trivializes Eastern and other religious traditions.

Prominent Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said the Dresden Semperoper, which would have been funded by taxpayers, “one of the finest opera houses in the world”, should not be devoted to the ruthless promotion of the appropriation of the traditions, elements and concepts of “others”; and ridicule entire communities.

Zed, who is president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, said the deeply problematic ballet was a blatant disparagement of a rich civilization and showed 19th-century Orientalist attitudes. He also urged Semperoper Dresden to apologize for such an inappropriate selection.

Semperoper Dresden should have been mature before choosing a ballet like “La Bayadère” (The Temple Dancer), showing the Western caricature of Eastern heritage and encouraging ethnic stereotypes; noted Rajan Zed.

It was highly irresponsible for Semperoper Dresden to choose such a ballet which had been blamed for patronizing a flawed mishmash of Orientalist stereotypes, dehumanizing cultural representation and misrepresentation, offensive and demeaning elements, unnecessary appropriation of cultural motifs , essentialism, superficial exoticism, caricature, etc. Semperoper Dresden could do better than this to serve its various stakeholders; Zed said.

Rajan Zed also urged the Prime Minister of the Free State of Saxony, Michael Kretschmer, to seriously address this issue of cultural stereotypes in the Semperoper Dresden.

Zed suggested to Semperoper Dresden’s artistic director Peter Theiler and general manager Wolfgang Rothe that they reevaluate its systems and procedures and send its executives for cultural sensitivity training so that such inappropriate things do not creep in in the future.

Like many others, Hindus also consider ballet as one of the revered art forms that offers richness and depth. But we are well into the 21st century now, and “La Bayadère”, which was first presented in Saint Petersburg (Russia) in 1877, is long awaited for a final retirement from the world stage; emphasizes Rajan Zed.

Semperoper Dresden has announced the presentation of “La Bayadère” (by Aaron S. Watkin), which he describes as “opulent oriental ballet”, in two acts on February 15, 17, 19, 21, 26 and March 05, 2023 Ticket prices range up to €74.

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