Semperoper Dresden urged to drop culturally insensitive ballet ‘La Bayadère’

Madhu Patel

CHICAGO: Native Americans here have pitched with Semperoper Dresden (Germany) to drop its upcoming production of “La Bayadère”; scheduled from February 15 to March 05, 2023 because it would trivialize Eastern and other religious traditions.

It is claimed that the Semperoper Dresden, “one of the finest opera houses in the world”, should not promote the appropriation of the traditions, elements and concepts of “others”; and ridicule entire communities

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

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; he added.

Prime Minister of the Free State of Saxony, Michael Kretschmer, is asked to seriously consider this issue of cultural stereotypes by Semperoper Dresden.

Semperoper Dresden’s artistic director Peter Theiler and general manager Wolfgang Rothe are reassessing its systems and procedures and sending its executives for cultural sensitivity training so that such inappropriate things don’t creep in in the future.

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

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