Hindus urge Tbilisi Opera & Ballet Theatre to drop culturally insensitive ballet “La Bayadère

Hindus are urging Tbilisi Opera and Ballet State Theatre (TOBST) in Georgia to withdraw “La Bayadère” ballet; scheduled for March 15-24; 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 TOBST 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 TOBST to apologize for such an inappropriate selection.

TOBST, founded 1851 and main opera house of Georgia, 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 like TOBST, reportedly owned by the municipality of Tbilisi, 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. TOBST could do better than this to serve its diverse stakeholders; Zed stated.

Rajan Zed suggested Theatre Artistic Director Badri Maysuradze, Georgia State Ballet Director Nina Ananiashvili, and municipality of Tbilisi to re-evaluate Theatre systems and procedures and send their executives for cultural sensitivity training so that such an inappropriate stuff did not slip through in the future.

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 But we are well into 21st century now, and outdated “La Bayadère”, which was first presented in St. Petersburg (Russia) in 1877, is long overdue for permanent retirement from the world stage; Zed points out.

Choreographic version and staging of this “La Bayadère” ballet in two acts is undertaken by Nina Ananiashvili and Alexei Fadeechev, while Papuna Gvaberidze is the staging conductor. “Dress code is necessary” in this Theatre.

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