Hindus are urging prestigious Latvian National Opera and Ballet (LNOB) in Riga to withdraw “La Bayadère” ballet; scheduled for October 13; 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 Latvian national institution like LNOB 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 LNOB to apologize for such an inappropriate selection.
LNOB, said to be one of the most important cultural establishments in Latvia founded in 1918, 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 a national center like LNOB 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. LNOB could do better than this to serve its diverse stakeholders; Zed stated.
Rajan Zed suggested LNOB Board Chairman Egils Silins, Chief Conductor Mārtiņš Ozoliņš, Artistic Director Aivars Leimanis 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; Latvia Culture Ministry, led by Nauris Puntulis, should seriously rethink their relationship with LNOB 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 But we are well into the 21st century now, and outdated “La Bayadère”, which was first presented in St. Petersburg (Russia) in 1877, is long overdue for permanent retirement from the world stage; Rajan Zed points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.
Two hours 40 minutes long “La Bayadère”, “romantic story of the temple dancer” and first production on the LNOB stage, will be shown in three acts in the Great Hall (built in 1863 and has 952 seats). Tickets cost up to €45 each and Farhads Stade and Aivars Leimanis are conductor and choreographer respectively. LNOB “performs the functions of the State Theater for popularizing and developing the genre of opera and ballet”.