An extraordinary life which began in Bangalore and ended in Croydon is remembered and celebrated in an exhibition about dancer Ram Gopal currently running at the Museum of Croydon.
Entitled “I saw a god dance”, the exhibition highlights Gopal’s contribution to bringing Indian dance to global audiences.
Sketched by painters, clicked by photographers, chiselled by sculptors and praised by critics, Gopal was described as the “Nijinsky of India” (a reference to the Russian ballet dancer, rather than the Lester Piggott-ridden Triple Crown-winner).
A modernist, he blended Indian dance with balletic choreography, and in the 1930s, along with Uday Shankar, was among the first to showcase classical dance in the West, becoming a celebrity from New York to Paris, London to Warsaw.
He danced at some of the greatest theatres in the world, where he performed Garuda: the Golden Eagle, The Legend of the Taj Mahal, and Radha Krishna, a ballet choreographed in collaboration with Dame Alicia Markova.
Made an OBE in 1996 for services to dance, Gopal died, aged 90, in 2003 in a Norbury care home where he had spent the final years of his extraordinary life.
The exhibition, funded by the Heritage Lottery, runs at the Museum of Croydon, in the Clocktower at Katharine Street, until March 25, and is presented in conjunction with Apsara Arts.
On the final day of the exhibition, which is free to attend, will include a community celebration with workshops and performances.
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