Imphal Review of Arts and Politics

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Manipuri Dance version of Dasa Avatar being performed on International Dance Day

Promoting and Preserving the Rich Manipuri Dance form through Celebrating International Dance Day

“We dance for laughter, we dance for tears, we dance for madness, we dance for fears, we dance for hopes, we dance for screams, we are the dancers, we create the dreams”.
  • Albert Einstein


Dance is an art form, with a goal in itself and a means that allows human being to express his inner feelings, thoughts and experiences. It transmits culture, emotions, tells stories and can be a testimony of a historical moment or a place of origin. Evidence of dance has been found dating back many centuries and it has grown into a worldwide phenomenon.

Archaeological findings have discovered records of representation of dance, in India, that are more than 9000 years ago. Egyptians have created illustrations of dance, more than 3000 BC ago. Many historians have suggested that dance has played a crucial role in transmitting history before the invention of written languages. There are dance styles for people of all ages and rhythm capabilities. Dancing is the best exercise for body and helps to keep our mind healthy and fit also helps to boost our self-esteem.

International Dance Day is a celebration of all types of dance and how the act of dancing can break cultural barriers. The Day is the celebration of the art of dance, but it also includes more than the celebration. It was founded with the concept of bringing together different people through the language of dance. International Dance Day is celebrated on 29th April every year. The Dance Committee of the International Theatre Institute (ITI), the main partner for the performing arts of UNESCO, started celebrating 29th of April as International Dance Day. It was first announced by the International Dance Council in 1982. The day also marks the birthday of the creator of the modern ballet dance form, Jean-Georges Noverre. The day is special and significant as it recognizes dancers from all across the globe and joins them together for their love and affection of this performing art form.

Kabui Naga Dance being performed

Manipur is known to the World for its rich art and culture. The famous classical dance of Raas Leela originates from the State of Manipur. UNESCO has recognized the Nata Sankirtana of Manipur as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Other important dance forms of Manipur are Pung Cholom, Leima Jagoi, Khamba-Thoibi dance, Lai Haraoba etc. Each ethnic group also has its own distinct culture and tradition deeply embedded in its dance forms.  Since time immemorial there follows a tradition of teaching dance especially the movement of hands from the very early stages of childhood particularly by womenfolk with the words Ta-ding ding, Ta-ding ding.

On the occasion of International Dance Day, Dr Nganbi Chanu of Umang Lai Haraoba Department of Manipur University of Culture said that it is good sign that the celebration took place in many places in the state. Before some decades the International dance day was not being celebrated in the state. Earlier under the Guru Siksha Parampara the dance institutes which are operational are JN Manipur Dance Academy and Government Dance College. Apart from these there are many institutions which are funded by the Ministry of Culture. In 2005, MA in Manipuri dance was introduced in Manipur University. Department of Dance and Lai Haraoba are also introduced in Manipur University of Culture. In some institutes the dance subject is opened as optional paper. In order to promote our rich culture the subject of dance should be introduced from the school level onwards as a compulsory subject. This will help students to learn the different forms of dance thus learning the culture and traditions too. It will also find a way for employability of the performer.

During the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Dance Movement Therapy was applied as a stress reliever to the patients. It is also practiced by common people for good mental and physical health. She added that dance should not be look only from the entertainment perspectives, but from different angles. Not only dancers everyone including leaders, stakeholders should be a part of the celebration. Mentioning about Lai Haraoba dance, Dr. Nganbi narrated that the Manipuri culture has a closed connection with the Lai Haraoba Dance. The origin of dance, theory of creation and human evolution etc. are embedded in this dance form. Some scholars opined that Lai Haraoba reflects the entire Manipuri Culture. She appealed to open dance subject from the grass root level and to provide suitable jobs for the awardees and to introduce a scheme for the welfare of the artists especially for those who could not perform anymore.

Dr Manju Elangbam of Umang Lai Haraoba department of Manipur University of Culture expressed that the identity, culture and tradition of any communities are being reflected in their own dance forms. People stated believing that dance adds a special taste in their lives. Manipuri dances have distinctly showcased Manipur to the world. To promote and preserve these art forms we need to study the present status of Manipuri dance.

Dr Manju narrated the great Gurus – Guru Amubi, Guru Atomba and Guru Amudon had made a great contribution for Manipuri Dance. Guru and performer who work tirelessly outside the state for promoting the Manipuri dance also made good contribution. The artists need to show respect and follow the paths of these Gurus. He added that the day need to be celebrated to a great extend with more involvement of the concerned authorities and to create awareness the benefits of dance thus helping in bringing a peace and prosperous state.

Every year the International Dance Day is celebrated by dancers and dancing communities in different parts of the World. In Manipur too it is celebrated in some institutes only where dance is associated with it. It is the need of the hour to promote dance to an extent where leaders of the state will notice the importance of dance and the needs of their support to this art form. This will help everyone in creating awareness the significance and benefits of dance in one’s life and allow everyone to be a dancer in the tune of its rhythm.

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