Daily: Hindu leader protests against ‘culture-insensitive’ Tallinn ballet | Culture
Rajan Zed, a US-based Hindu leader and prominent figure in interfaith relations, said on Monday that the National Opera, which he says is taxpayer-funded, should not mock or culturally distract from other cultures , what he says that “La Bayadère” does, Postimees reported (link in Estonian).
Zed said: “It is very irresponsible of the National Opera to include in the program a ballet which has been accused of appropriating and condescending Eastern stereotypes,” adding that the ballet, composed in 1877 and which the international representative organization Zed has protested before, has offensive and superficial caricatures within it, and belongs to a bygone era.
The creative director of the State Opera Arvo Volmer rejected these claims, saying that: “Certainly, the intention (…) was not to discriminate or denigrate anyone, but rather to uplift them and highlight them by artistic means, “adding that the opera has presented” La Bayadère “since 2013, and takes care not to offend or carry potentially racist connotations, and takes into account the cultural and historical context.
In some past international performances, “La Bayadère”, which, if it materializes, will take the stage in Tallinn next April, child performers have worn blackface; Another spokesperson, Phil Chan, of the organization Final Bow for Yellowface, which aims to eliminate East Asian stereotypes from ballet, says there is nothing that connects “La Bayadère” to India nor to Asia as a whole, because it is simply a western -creation of a facsimile of Indian culture, intended for a homogeneous Western audience.
The full Postimees play (in Estonian) is here.
The modern productions of “La Bayadère” which tells the story of Nikiya and the warrior Solor, who have sworn eternal loyalty, are based on a Soviet production of the Kirov Ballet from 1941.
Ludwig Minkus (1826-1917) was a Judeo-Austrian composer who worked as an official composer of ballet music at the Imperial Theaters in St. Petersburg.
In 2007, Rajan Zed delivered the very first Hindu prayer to be officially offered to the US Senate, although this was interrupted by protests from Christians who had entered the Capitol.
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