ZOHRA SEGAL (1912-2014)
Tottenham Court Road, London, June 1969 The legendary dancer Ram Gopal took me one morning to meet Zohra Segal. Having known about her as a member of Uday Shankar’s dance troupe, I was keen to meet her. And who better than Ram Gopal to introduce me to her? I did not know that she had a whacky sense of humour, though Ram Gopal did tell me that she was a marvellous woman and a great dancer. After Ram Gopal introduced me to her as an up-and-coming young dance scholar and critic and someone who knew Mohan Khokar, she smiled and warmly welcomed me. Then looking naughtily at Ram she said: “Arrre, you have brought him now to meet me when I am 57 and ugly. You should have done so when I was young and ugly!” And we all laughed heartily. She invited to come home and meet her daughter Kiran who was studying Bharatanatyam. We planned to do so at leisure.
This is how my first meeting with Zohra Segal came to pass. I had met Ram Gopal at Bombay when I interviewed him for The Times of India. Soon after in 1969, I received a British Council scholarship for a year to observe classical ballet, modern dance, and to meet dance historians, scholars, ballerinas and critics in London. While there I asked Ram Gopal to help me meet Zohra and Simkie, another partner of Uday Shankar, as they kept in touch with one another. I also wanted to visit Dartington Hall, near Devonshire, where Uday Shankar had a residency to see the many photographs of his dance choreographic works. Renowned dance critic Richard Buckle gave me that information.
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