Manipuri dance is one of the major Indian classical dance forms. It originates from Manipur, a state in north-eastern India on the border with Myanmar (also known as Burma). In Manipur, surrounded by mountains and geographically isolated at the meeting point of the orient and mainland India, the form developed its own specific aesthetics, values, conventions and ethics. The cult of Radha and Krishna, particularly the raslila, is central to its themes but the dances, unusually, incorporate the characteristic cymbals (kartal or manjira) and double-headed drum (pung or Manipuri mridang) of sankirtan into the visual performance.
It originated in the country’s present day state of Kerala during the 17th century and has developed over the years with improved looks, refined gestures and added themes besides more ornate singing and precise drumming.
Manipuri dancers do not wear ankle bells to accentuate the beats tapped out by the feet, in contrast with other Indian dance forms, and the dancers’ feet never strike the ground hard. Movements of the body and feet and facial expressions in Manipuri dance are subtle and aim at devotion and grace. This dance has a preponderance of ‘Lasya’ and the footwork, eyebrow movements, hand gestures and body postures all imbibe ‘Lasya’.
The costume of Manipuri dance is extremely, attractive and colorful. The women dancers wear a costume called ‘Pulloi’ A loose lehanga of bright satin or silk is worn which is called ‘coomin’. It is adorned with motifs made with glass and Jari which is covered by transparent silk or peshwan. To blow the ‘coomin’ near the knees, bamboo sticks are placed inside in a circular form. The face of the dancer is covered with transparent silk. The hairs are raised and then tied in a knot. The shape of the knot is according to the type of Raas. The Gopis usually wear costume of red color while Radha wears green colour.