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Hindu Rights Activist Accuses Houston Ballet of Cultural Insensitivity Over Production of LA BAYADERE

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The activist claimed that the production "trivializes Eastern religious and other traditions."

Hindu Rights Activist Accuses Houston Ballet of Cultural Insensitivity Over Production of LA BAYADERE

The Houston Ballet is under fire after a Hindu rights activist is accusing the company of cultural insensitivity and is urging it to cancel its upcoming performances of La Bayadère, Houston Press reports.

The activist claimed that the production "trivializes Eastern religious and other traditions."

Rajan Zed, the president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, issued a press release with his criticisms and then reached out to Houston Ballet directly. Leaders of the ballet company have offered to meet with him virtually.

"It was highly 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 cultural appropriation, essentialism, shallow exoticism, caricaturing, etc.," Zed said in the release.

In 2018, Zed made a similar complaint to the Royal Opera House which had performances of La Bayadere in London.

"Many of the ballets and operas in the classical cannon were created in a time when knowledge of other cultures was extremely limited, which is why we take great care in addressing concerns regarding what we present today," said Houston Ballet Executive Director Jim Nelson. "Houston Ballet has been an industry leader in breaking boundaries with regard to inclusion, diversity, equity and access in dance. Stanton and I firmly believe that art is for everyone and everyone's voice counts."

It has yet to be determined if the ballet will modify its production in any way due to these claims.

Read more on Houston Press.


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