The country India is perceived as the cultural hub, as the people here are great admirers of dance and music. The country is known for its richness in evolving the six classical forms of dancing. Manipuri dance is one of the oldest and the most beautiful benediction which India offered to the globe. The name of this dance form is derived from the state Manipur, situated in the north east on the Indian map. The Manipuri dance, although old, is the youngest of the classical dance forms evolved in India. This dance form reflects the manner in which the people of the state of Manipur offer their prayers to Lord Krishna and Goddess Radha.
The Manipuri dancers never gaze either at themselves or at the audience as an epitome of the congregation. Photo from Flickr
The Manipuri dance carries with it a rich and enthralling history. The history sings with the notion that King Khuyoi Tompok was one of the greatest enthusiasts of the performing arts and is behind the development of the Manipuri dance in the second century. The boom in the popularity of this dance form was witnessed during the fifteenth century with the onset of Vaishnavism in the country. The King Kyamba acted as the pioneer of this dance form, and later King Khagemba and King Chairairangaba aided in further exploration as well as development of this dance form. In the eighteenth century King Bhagyachandra gave the Manipuri dance its scientific base. He gave an invitation to the pioneers as well as the advocated of this dance form, to develop this dance form into a harmonious system.
Manipuri Dance Style
The Manipuri dance style is the perfect blend of the technical as well as the artistic movements. The underlying aim for the dance performance is to express the submission towards the deities. Since, the dances were held at sacred places, a whole regime of rules was followed. At the core, the dance was entirely devotional and conveyed a sense of holiness to the eyes watching the dance form. This dance form mainly focuses on the upper parts of the body. This dance form also reflects one of the propagated aspects of the Indian culture, which says to do away with all sorts of Maya and surrender oneself to the Lord. To reflect this aspect, the dancers never gaze either at themselves or at the audience as an epitome of the congregation. The dance movements used in this form are quite tangled and intricate.
Being a classical form of dance, the Manipuri dance is very particular with its feet movements. The feet of the dancer never strike the ground, so as to abstain from any sound interfering with the flow of the dance. The taal’s for this dance form is similar to the other Indian classical dance form. The mudra’s or the hand movements for the Manipuri dance can be either single hand or double hand, and are far distinct from the other classical dance forms.
Manipuri Dance Music
Usually the North Indian music and the songs of great poets are used in the dance form. The instrumentation is the integral as well as a crucial part of the Manipuri dance. There is a vast usage of cylindrical drum (Mridang) and the cymbals (Manjira).
Manipuri Dance Costume
The vibrant feature of this dance form is its unique costume made in vivacious and rich colors and captivating pieces of jewels. “Patloi” is the name of the costume of the female dancers which is known for casting spell on the onlookers. The costumes certainly reflect a sort of historical brilliance which the dance form has inherited from its pioneers. There is a vast use of zari work, mirrors, silk and gold which are convoluted into the pulchritudinous design.
Manipuri Dance cultural Influence
The Manipuri dance is a pious form of classical dancing with its roots in the religious and spiritual sentiments of the people. This dance form developed as well as evolved due to the daily course of activities as well as the religious festivals celebrated by the people of Manipur. The dancers of the Indian land consider their dance as a way of worshiping God and expressing their gratitude towards the almighty. This is often the reason why the Manipuri dance provides such a divine intervention to the dancers who indulge in learning and experiencing its movements. The dancers who learn this dance form feel connected with the God and thus enjoy each and every phase of the Manipuri dance. The Manipuri dance is celebrated as the modest and the softest form of classical dance in the world. Also, it is considered as the only dance form which has the capability to establish a meaning to the audience.
The striking feature of the Manipuri dance form is its aesthetic appeal which fills the heart of the audience with artful connection. It is the dance form with which the audience can relate to and aspire for. The beauty of this dance form is an emotional shower it presents the audience with. During the performances, the audience experiences an awe-inspiring sight, which arouse their inner feelings and they feel connected with the divine. Manipuri dance is known for having a dream like effect on the audience. The devotional theme and the religious background are the underlying reason for people, both dancers as well as non-dancers getting attracted to this dance form.