The significant role Indian dancer Ram Gopal played in bringing Indian dance to international audiences
This talk expounds the significant role Indian dancer Ram Gopal (1912-2003) played in bringing Indian dance to international audiences from the 1930s to the late 1960s. Using interviews with Gopal’s remaining family, his costume-makers, close friends, dance partners, coupled with detailed archival evidence from programmes and other written documentation in the British Library collections it focuses on the early international tours that saw sell-out performances in the USA in 1938 and in London in 1939, as well as his stay in India during World War II. It investigates the sumptuous imagery produced of him by well-known society photographers, for example, Cecil Beaton and Carl Van Vechten, and artists Feliks Topolski, Milein Cosman and Kay Ambrose, as well as the photos in the British Library collections by Stanley Jepson. The talk discusses the lineage from which he came and the legacy he left, and addresses how the dancing body may be laden with colonialist, nationalist and orientalist discourses.
Ann R David, Professor in Dance and Cultural Engagement at the Roehampton University, specializes in dance anthropology and South Asian classical and popular dance. She has given public talks at the National Portrait Gallery and the V&A Museum, London on the Indian dancer Ram Gopal and is publishing a forthcoming book on his life and work. Ann is Head of the Dance Department at Roehampton, and is passionate about the need for the arts in education, working closely with policy-makers in the arts and on the board of several arts organizations.
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Image: Ram Gopal on tour, commissioned by NAAFI and ENSA India, British Library YK.2017.a.3804.