This is a thought-provoking piece that I do not necessarily agree or disagree with. I haven’t seen the ballet. Typically in situations like this I would prefer to let the free market decide if something lives or dies.
To put this in another context, many depictions of Christ, Christians, and Christianity in art, literature, music, film, and theatre could be seen as offensive by some Christians. In fact, the whole take of most non-Christian religions as to who Christ really was could be seen as offensive by some Christian believers.
Just a guy? A good person? A madman? A prophet but not God?
Arguably, these often implied statements subtly undermine many versions of Christian belief.
However, I believe it would be a mistake to call for censorship just because some folks do not like a particular point of view.
And I tend to lean in a similar direction with all religions and believers. Why censor things? If you really are secure in your belief, what other people think should not matter.
That’s one way of looking at it.
The other way is that certain harmful ideas and practices may be superficially ‘legitimized’ and reinforced by cultural productions, making sensitive and mature discernment required from time to time.
Read for yourself and see what you think.
As I say, I try to avoid censorship. So even though I have no opinion on this right now I think it would be a mistake to ignore the issue.
Hindus are pleading for permanent retirement of 1877 ballet “La Bayadère” from the world stage, which they feel seriously trivializes Eastern religious and other traditions.
Hindu Rajan Zed from Nevada (USA) says that ballet companies should not be in the business of callously promoting the 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.
Ballet companies should show 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 ballet companies 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. Ballet companies could do better than this to serve the diverse world communities, Zed stated.
Zed also urges the world’s ballet companies and venues hosting ballets to re-evaluate their systems and procedures and send their executives for cultural sensitivity training so that such inappropriate stuff did not slip through in the future. Moreover, corporate sponsors should re-think before sponsoring such ballets, Zed pointed out.
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 retirement; Zed adds.