The Manipuris are completely ignorant about the use of dance for the sake of dancing and contract system. From the sacred texts, we can point here some characteristic features of Manipuri dancing which are as under –
1) The place where dance are held are sacred. It is considered to be a crime or sin to violate the rules. Anytime, anyplace is not good enough.
2) Dances are devotional or ritualistic rather than entertainment of the eyes. It is a Sadhan-Bhakti -kind of devotion to God for both the dancers and onlookers.
3) The dressing is so designed as to free them from any stimulus, excitement to the opposite sex. Dance is but the rhythmic expression of action and activities of life on the upper part of the body.
4) The artist never looks at any person or audience as a mark of concentration to the Lord surrendering the outward world and illusions of Maya and also giving up all lust, greed, anger, envy, hatred and pride of the dancers.
5) The steps of dancing are very much acute and complex and never show outward feeling of lust and amorous play.
The Techniques of Manipuri Dancing
The technique of Manipuri dancing is based on an interesting principle of compensatory movement with the objective of achieving rounded movements and avoiding any jerks, sharp edges or straight lines. If the right hand is outstretched towards the right, for example, the body is tilted towards the left in order to offset the right side thrust. The movement towards the right has been balanced and subdued by one towards the left. This particularly contrasts with the technique of Bharata Natyam, in which, in the same example, the effort would generally be to emphasize the movement to the right. It is this aspect which imparts to Manipuri an undulating and soft appearance. This impression of softness actually hides a very tough regimen of body control.
Similarly, the feet never strike the ground with a sound on impact, as this would interfere with the delicate flow of the body movements. The knees and ankles cushion the landing so that no sound ensues. Manipuri dancers do not even wear ankle bells, whose purpose is after all to accentuate the beats tapped out by the feet.
Taal’s and Matra’s
The Taal’s in Manipuri dance generally similar to those of the dance forms in north India. There is considerable number of characteristics that are not distinguishable with the Bangladesh Kirtana.
Taal / Matra
Tintaal Mel 3
Mel Kup 6
Tintaal Macha 7
Moitaal Surfunc 10
Tall Jao 12
Chari Taal 7 or 14
Ponchom Sowari 15
Raaj Mel 7
Meitaal Suryok 10
Tintaal Achouba 8
Mudra’s (Hand Movements)
The Mudra’s or hand Movements in Manipuri dance are quite different from other classical dance forms. From Bhagyachandra’s GovindaSangit Leelabilas and the book ” Laithok Laikha Jogoi” the following Mudra’s are found –
O-songyukta (single hand): Potaka, tripotaka, ordopotaka, kotokamukh, sondongsa, mrigashirsha, hongsashya, olopollob, bhruksa, angush, ordhochandra, kurak, mushti.
Songyukta (Double hand): Shangkha,Chakra, onjoli,Taksa, Paas, korkot, Somput, rombhasum,pushpaput,kukil,shoshtik,sook.