ABOUT MANIPURI DANCE – MANIPURI DANCE HISTORY
Manipuri danceis one of the major classical dance forms of India. Itoriginates from Manipur, a north-eastern state of India. A small state enclosed by hills on all sides. The geographical solitude of the land of Manipur has led to the carving of a distinct and unique cultural identity of the Manipuris and for centuries the people have preserved and took care of their rich tradition of dance and music.
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Apart from codifying the style of RasLeela, King Bhagyachandra also designed the beautiful Manipuri dance costume. In the 19th century, Maharaja Gambhir Singh composed the two parengs of the tandava type – the GoshthaBhangiPareng and the GoshthaVrindabanPareng. During this time, Maharaja Chandra Kirti Singh shaped the 64 Pungcholoms or drum dances and two parengs of the Lasya type – the VrindabanBhangiPareng and KhrumbaBhangiPareng. NityaRas have also been accredited to him. However, it was the continuous efforts of Rabindranath Tagore and other Gurus that the dance became popular even outside the region.
Manipuri dance is entirely religious, intensely devotional in mood and its goal is to experience spirituality. The dances are influenced by the religious movement of Vaishnavism, the worship of Lord Vishnu, The cult of Radha and Krishna, particularly the RASLILA is central to its themes.
The traditional Manipuri dance style embodies delicate, lyrical and graceful movements. The aim is to make rounded movements and avoid any jerks, sharp edges or straight lines. It is this which gives Manipuri dance its undulating and soft appearance. The foot movements are viewed as part of a composite movement of the whole body. In group dances like Lai Haraoba, the merry-making for the gods, the dancers perform various steps and weave patterns, involving various choreographic compositions. From the corpus of Manipuri dances, one sees on the contemporary stage solo, duet and group performances. The music is typical of the region and is influenced by the kirtan school of Bengal due to the influence of Vaishnavism.
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 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. Other common instruments includes harmonium, pena, Bansuri, shankh etc.
So if you want to experience spirituality along with the divine style and music,then learnManipuri dance. It contains it all.