Dance of India
is the classical dance from the Manipur region in the
north-east. Manipuri is different in many ways from
the other dance forms in India. The body moves with
slow, sinuous grace and the undulating arm movements
flow into the fingers. The dance form evolved in the
18th century with the advent of the Vaishnava faith,
from earlier ritual and magical dance forms. Themes
from the Vishnu Purana, Bhagvata Purana and compositions
from the Gitagovinda predominate the repertoire.
According to the legends of the Meitei tribes of Manipur,
when God created Earth, it was lumpy. The seven Lainoorahs
danced on this newly-formed sphere, pressing gently
with their feet to make it firm and smooth. This is
the origin of Meitei Jagoi. To this day, when Manipuri
people dance, they do not stamp vigorously but press
their feet gently and delicately on the ground. The
original myths and stories are still practiced by the
cultist Maibis, or Meitei priestesses in the form (Maibi)
that is the root of Manipuri.
The female 'Rasa' dances, based on the Radha-Krishna
theme, feature group ballets and solos. The male 'Sankirtana'
dances, performed to the pulsating rhythm of the Manipuri
dholak are full of vitality.
The musical forms of Manipuri dance reflect the culture
of the state of Manipur. The art form primarily depicts
episodes from the life of Vishnu and is paradoxically
a most tender and vigorous form of expression. Balance
and a restraint of power are the predominant features
of this style.