La Bayadère of Semperoper Dresden fuels global Hinduphobia

Hindus are urging Semperoper Dresden (Germany) to discard its upcoming production of “La Bayadère”; scheduled for February 15—March 05, 2023; which they feel seriously trivializes Eastern religious and other traditions.

Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that reportedly taxpayer funded Semperoper Dresden, “one of the most beautiful opera houses in the world”, 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 Semperoper Dresden to apologize for such an inappropriate selection.

Semperoper Dresden 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 Semperoper Dresden 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. Semperoper Dresden could do better than this to serve its diverse stakeholders; Zed stated.

Rajan Zed also urged Free State of Saxony Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer to seriously look into this issue of cultural stereotyping by Semperoper Dresden.

Zed suggested Semperoper Dresden Artistic Director Peter Theiler and Managing Director Wolfgang Rothe to re-evaluate its systems and procedures and send its executives for cultural sensitivity training so that such 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 But we are well into the 21st century now, and outdated “La Bayadère”, which was first presented in St. Petersburg (Russia) in 1877, is long overdue for permanent retirement from the world stage; Rajan Zed points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.

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