Ram Gopal, Indian Dance for Westerners

The man who is regarded as being the first dancer to introduce the West to the “real” Indian dance tradition was Ram Gopal (1917–2003). In fact, his creations were only based on real Indian dance techniques, such as kathakali, bharatanatyam, and kathak, while the dance numbers themselves were mostly his own creations.

Nonetheless, Ram Gopal was a remarkable dancer. He toured the world with his own company, for which he created short spectacular pieces. While they were based on Indian techniques he stripped them, at the same time, of their original costuming and make-up and gave them the fashionable “orientalistic” outlook, so popular in the West and by that time in India too.


Facts about India
The Historical Outline
Early Literature and Theatre
Bharata and his Natyashastra
Dance in the Visual Arts
The Drama Proper
Sanskrit Dramas
Present-day Traditions
Kerala, Richness of Theatrical Traditions
Teyyam, an Archaic Form of Ritual Theatre
Kutiyattam, The Only Surviving Form of Sanskrit Drama
Nangiarkuttu, The Female Branch of Kutiyattam
Krishnanattam, Praise to Lord Krishna
Kalaripayattu, the Body as a Weapon
Kathakali, Kerala’s Grandiose Dance-Drama
Pavakathakali, Kathakali as a Puppet Play
Mohiniattam, Mohini’s Dance
Tullal, A Semi-Classical One-Man Show
Kummatti, Masked Dance-Processions
Tolpavakoothu, The Ramayana of Shadows
Classical Solo Dances, Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, Orissi, and Kathak
Bharatanatyam, the Solo Dance Style of Tamil Nadu
Orissi, Solo Dance Style of Orissa
Kuchipudi, The Dance Style of Andhra Pradesh
Kathak, The Indo-Persian Dance Style
Pilgrimage Theatre
Raslila, A Devotional Dance-Opera
Ramlila, Events in Rama’s Life
Folk Theatre
Jatra, The Bengali Folk Theatre of East India and Bangladesh
Yakshagana, Gorgeous Dance Opera from Karnataka
Therukoothu, The Street Theatre of Tamilnadu
Chhau, Dances of Eastern India Derived from Martial Arts
Manipuri Dances, the Isolated Dance Tradition of Northeastern India
Storytelling and Puppet Theatre
The Arrival of Western Spoken Drama
The Birth of the Indian Film Industry
Rabindranath Tagore
Rukmini Devi, the Revival of Southern Classical Dance
Balasarasawati and the Guru Institution
Uday Shankar, the Father of Modern Indian Dance
Ram Gopal, Indian Dance for Westerners
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