Photo by Dan
Manipuri originated in the picturesque valleys of north India. Performed still in temples and religious occasions, inextricably woven into the lives of the people of Manipur, this dance form is very much a living tradition.
This style is multifaceted, ranging from the softest feminine to the obviously vigorous masculine. Dignified grace is to be found in every aspect and the range it offers in technique, rhythmics and tempo makes a Manipuri recital an absorbing and exhilarating experience.
According to legend, Lord Shiva and his consort Parvati danced in the valleys of Manipuri to the accompaniment of the Ghandharvas to the celestial light of Mani (jewel) from the head of the Atishesha, a serpant and that is how it has come to be called Manipuri.
Manipuri dance is a generic name and covers all the dance forms of this land. Manipuri lays emphasis in involving the entire body in the dance other than the facial expression. The principal dance item in Manipuri is Ras, which depicts bhakti rasa. The innumerable escapes of Lord Krishna are depicted in Ras. This form of dance lays emphasis on lyrical grace and delicacy of hand gestures. The Chooloms is another form of Manipuri, which includes vigorous tandava items and fast rhythms. Choolams involves singing and dancing, directed towards achieving the union of god. In Choolams, Poong Choolam is danced by men holding drums, and Kartal Choolam by both men and women using cymbals in their hands. Lai Haraoba is another form of Manipuri, which portrays the creation of universe. The costumes used in this form of dance are ornamental and rich in colors.