The South Asian region is rich with culture that has been carried from generation to generation, manifesting into traditions that many of us know about. The field of dance is no stranger to anyone. However, the South Asian region is famous for many dances with techniques and movements that have been amalgamated into the western dance as well.
Manipuri is a form of classical dance that originated from the state of Manipur in the north-eastern part of India. This dance, in particular, incorporates movements from the Tandava- divine dance by Hindu gods like Krishna and Lasya- a dance performed by the goddess Parvati expressing grace and beauty. This dance ranges from the subdued and elegant feminine movements to the upbeat and vigorous masculine ones that captivate the observer.
Although the dance is commonly known for the lyrics and the graceful movements, the Manipuri dance is difficult to learn at first since it has an elusive trait to it. Even though the dance keeps up with subtleness of the style, Manipuri does not match up to the facial acts required in leading an audience towards the experience of sentiment or in other words the facial expressions are not exaggerated rather they are kept natural during the performance, rather in this particular dance, the whole body is used to convey a sentiment or emotion.
The important elements to keep in mind of this dance include the Sankirtana and Raas Leela, both based on the devotional theme of Krishna and Radha dancing together. The Raas Leela is a depiction of a cosmic dance of Krishna and the maidens of the cowherd. The dancers dressed in beautifully embroidered skirts that are long and flared from the waist with translucent veils dance together with Krishna who is adorning a peacock feather crown. This adds radiance to the entire imagery and it is usually what dancers wear while performing as they sway and twirl to an ascending tempo.
This particular performance usually does not require ankle bells that are used to accentuate the beat tapped out by the feet as observed in other Indian dance forms rather the dancer’s feet are never supposed to strike the ground hard to make even a sound. The entire dance revolves around subtlety and calmness that aim towards devotion and grace which captures the audiences’ attention regardless.