Hindus urge Connecticut Ballet Conservatory to drop culturally insensitive ballet “La Bayadère”  

Hindus are urging The Nutmeg Ballet Conservatory (NBC) in Torrington (Connecticut) to withdraw “La Bayadère” from its upcoming Graduation Performance Series (May 18-21), which they feel seriously trivializes Eastern religious and other traditions.

Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, said that a renowned ballet conservatory like NBC, whose sponsors reportedly include State of Connecticut, 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 NBC to apologize for such an inappropriate selection.

NBC, which claims to be “committed to creating world-class artists”, 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 irresponsible for a community organization 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. NBC, established in 1969, could do better than this to serve the diverse area communities; Zed stated.

Rajan Zed suggested NBC Executive Director Sharon E. Dante and Artistic Director Victoria Mazzarelli 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.

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 But we are well into 21st century now, and outdated “La Bayadère”, which was first presented in St. Petersburg (Russia) in 1877, is long overdue for permanent retirement from the world stage; Zed points out.

The Graduation Performance Series of NBC (which include “La Bayadère”) are slated to be in-person and livestream performances from historic Warner Theatre in Torrington.