Manipuri originates to the region of Manipur in Northeastern India. This dance conveys a variety of messages; from religion and deities, to romance and love. This dance traces back to the Hindu Sanskrit text of Natya Shastra, similar to the majority of the classical Indian dances. It also developed and grew with the cultural infusion of Southeast Asia and India. This dance emphasizes upper torso gestures and very fluid and smooth movements and involves large and colorful costumes. This dance is performed by a group and is danced to drums and cymbals.
Definitions for clarification:
Dhoti - a traditional men’s garment worn in India
Kumil - an exquisitely embellished long skirt in the shape of a barrel with a stiffened bottom
Chari or Chali - the fundamental dance movement of Ras dances of Manipur
‘Gandharvas’ - native dance experts of Manipur
The Learning Process:
Different seasons determine the repertoire and basic play of this dance. Below is listed the general components taught as there is not a definite syllabus to learn the dance, as that is determined by the student’s guru. Male dancers wear bright coloured dhoti (referred as dhora or dhotra that covers lower part of his body from the waist). Costume of female dancers resembles that of a Manipuri bride, referred as Potloi costumes.
Graceful, gentle, and lyrical movements
Fundamental dance movement of Ras dances
Students learn to display facial expressions, hand gestures and body language
Acrobatic and vigorous dance movements are mastered