The Malaysian government has denied a permit to a Singapore Dance Theatre days before they were slated to perform in the Malaysian capital city of Kuala Lumpur.
While no official reason was given, local media has claimed that the denial of the permit was due to the troupe’s “indecent” costumes, including classical tutus that have been worn by dancers for centuries.
The permit was denied by the Central Agency for the Application for Filming and Performance by Foreign Artists, or PUSPAL, which is under the purview of the Information, Communication and Culture Ministry.
According to Singapore’s Straits Times, the Singapore Dance Theatre has denied that “indecent” costumes were the reason behind the cancellation of the performance in Malaysia. The dance company was supposed to present Ballet Illuminations, a mix of contemporary and classical works such as the Nutcracker, when it received news on Tuesday that the approval had not been granted.
Janek Schergen, the company’s artistic director said the news came as a shock as the licences for ballet performances in Malaysia for the past two years had been granted without a hitch.
MyDance Alliance president Bilqus Hijjas slammed the decision by the government agency as “deplorable” and “inconsistent,” as dances that featured classical tutus were allowed to be held even at government-run venue just earlier this year.
In an open letter published by the Malaysian Insider, she said the women’s costumes included long skirts and classical tutus that had been used by ballet dancers. “Ballet dancers in Baghdad are allowed to wear ballet costumes on stage. Are we to understand that the Malaysian public is less cosmopolitan, less morally resilient and less broad minded than the citizens of a Middle Eastern country that has been ripped to shreds by war and violence?”
eurasiareview.com – 5 April 2012:
Malaysia Bans Singapore Ballet Performance Over Tutus – OpEd
Art Radar Asia – 18 April 2012:
What the ballet ban means for contemporary art in Malaysia in 2012
In early April 2012, the Malaysian government cancelled a ballet show due to, by some accounts, the “revealing” outfits that were to be worn by the performers. Just how pernicious is censorship in Malaysia, and what does this mean for Malaysian contemporary art?