2Classical Form:Manipuri Dance IntroductionManipuri dance is one of the eight classical dance forms of India .It belongs to the north East Indian state of Manipur. Its themes are devotional and are performed on religious occasions and in temples throughout the area. It is even often referred to as "sankirtan". The term Manipuri actually covers a number of dance forms from the region. The most important being the Ras Lila and the Pung Cholom.
3Characteristics of Manipuri Dance The traditional Manipuri dance style embodies delicate, lyrical and graceful movements .Rounded movements and avoid any jerks, sharp edges or straight lines. undulating and soft appearance. The foot movements are viewed as part of a composite movement of the whole body. The dancer puts his or her feet down, even during vigorous steps, with the balls of the feet touching the ground first. The ankle and knee joints are effectively used as shock absorbers. The dancer’s feet are neither put down nor lifted up at the precise rhythmic points of the music but rather slightly earlier or later to express the same rhythmic points most effectively.
4RasLila and Manipuri dance There are a number of forms in Manipuri. These are the Ras Lila, the Pung Cholom, Nupa Cholom, Thoibi and a host of others. We will now look at them in greater detail.The Ras Lila is the most important dance form in the Manipuri style. The theme revolves around the love of Krishna and the milkmaids (gopinis). Although the themes are romantic, we must remember that the Bhakti school of Hinduism considers physical love as a metaphor for spiritual longing.
5Types of Raslila and Manipuri There are five Ras Lilas that deal with the divine love of Radha and Krishna. These are: Maharas, Vasantras, Kunjaras, Nityaras and Divaras. Other Ras deal with various aspects of Krishna's life such as Karnabheda (ear piercing), marriage, etc. The performance of Ras Lila is generally performed in a special enclosure in front of the temple called a Nat Mandap.
7Music in Manipuri Dance There is a very characteristic style of music for Manipuri dance. The music is generally similar to the larger body of north Indian (Hindustani) music. However there are differences in nomenclature of rags, tals, and the style of presentation is somewhat different.Manipuri is unique among the classical Indian dances in that the instrumentation is a central part of the dance, rather than as a side accompaniment. Dances are very much based upon the cymbals (kartal or manjira) and the cylindrical drum known as Manipuri mridang or pung. Unlike other classical, dances where the instrument is merely used as an accompaniment, the pung and the kartal (manjira) are actually used in the dance.
8Song and InstrumentsOther common instruments are the harmonium, pena, bansuri, shankh (conch), and esraj.The songs used in Manipuri are usually from the great poets of old such as Jaydev, Vidyapati, Chandidas, Govindadas or Gyandas. Any of a number of languages may be used such as Sanskrit, Maithili, Brijbhasha or others.
9Musical Instruments Used To Accompany Manipuri Pung Kartal (Manjira) and ManzillaPenaHarmoniumBansuri EsrajShankh
10CostumeThe Ras costume consists of a richly embroidered stiff skirt which extends to the feet. These skirts or lehngas are called ‘Kumin’ and also a ‘patloi’named cloth worn by femalesA short fine white muslin skirt is worn over it. A dark coloured velvet blouse covers the upper part of the body and a traditional white veil is worn over a special hair-do which falls gracefully over the face. Krishna wears a yellow dhoti, a dark velvet jacket and a crown of peacock feathers. The jewellery is very delicate and the designs are unique to the region.
11Manipuri DancersThe present noted Manipuri dancers of India and Bangladesh, as well as international fame are Hanjaba Guru Bipin Singha, Guru Chandrakanta Singha - Nartanachrya, Guru Nilmadhab Mukharjee, Guru Haricharan singha, Bibhaboti Devi, Kalabati Devi etc. Most of them have their dancing tours on the manipuri to England, America, Rassia, Australia, Japan, Germany, Italy, France, Hongkong, Thailand, Bhutan, Srilanka etc. and earned great name and fame for their style. Among Non-Manipuri dancers, the names of Preeti patel, Sruuti Banerjee, Tamanna Rahman.In Bombay the famous performers and teachers are the Jhaveri sisters - Nayana,Suverna, Darshana and Ranjana Jahveri. They continue this tradition at their institution 'Manipuri Nartanalaya'.