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Norwegian National Ballet refuses to drop insensitive ballet La Bayadère: Hindus to appeal PM Støre
Norwegian National Opera & Ballet has refused to discard its upcoming production of "La Bayadère"; scheduled for March 23-April 07, 2022 in Oslo; which protesting Hindus feel seriously trivializes Eastern religious and other traditions and is culturally insensitive.
"We do not plan to cancel the production", Norwegian National Opera & Ballet (Den Norske Opera & Ballett) Communications Director Kenneth Fredstie wrote to Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, who spearheaded the protest. Fredstie, however, admitted in the email that "La Bayadère" features "fascination with, but also ignorance of, other cultures".
Responding to Zed (who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism), Norwegian Ministry of Culture and Equality, which appoints the board of Norwegian National Opera & Ballet; has also declined to intervene, citing "artistic freedom".
We plan to appeal to Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre as it is simply unfair, unethical and inappropriate to spend taxpayer's money on caricaturing "other" cultures; Rajan Zed points out in a statement in Nevada (USA) today.
We strongly felt that taxpayer funded Norwegian National Opera & Ballet; which was "wholly-owned by the Norwegian state"; should not be in the business of callously promoting appropriation of traditions, elements and concepts of "others"; and ridiculing entire communities;
Rajan Zed indicated that this deeply problematic ballet was just a blatant belittling of a rich civilization and exhibited 19th-century orientalist attitudes.
Zed further said that Norwegian National Ballet, which claims to be "the only classical ballet company in Norway", 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.
It was highly irresponsible for Norwegian National Opera & Ballet, whose "strategy" stated—"We will create and present operas and ballets which make an impact"; 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. Norwegian National Opera & Ballet could do better than this to serve its diverse stakeholders;
The Norwegian Ministry of Culture and Equality and its Minister Anette Trettebergstuen should also take its areas of responsibility—