A masterclass on Manipuri dance

Aug 21, 2014, 09:15 IST | Soma Das

The annual August Dance Residency at NCPA will feature Manipuri performances and a master class by Darshana Jhaveri and Bimbavati Devi from the Manipuri Nartanalaya

In its fourth edition, the National Centre for the Performing Arts’ (NCPA) August Dance Residency will focus on Manipuri dance. The two-day event will feature performances, lectures and a master class, among other activities, by Darshana Jhaveri and Bimbavati Devi, directors of Guru Bipin Singh’s Manipuri Nartanalaya.

Drummers have a significant role to play in Manipuri dance
Drummers have a significant role to play in Manipuri dance

The Manipuri Nartanalaya was founded in 1972 in the cities of Mumbai, Kolkata and Imphal (Manipur) by Guru Bipin Singh, in collaboration with the Jhaveri sisters and Kalavati Devi. The institute has three branches across the country, which sets it apart from other institutes who have participated at the August Dance Residency in the past.

Manipuri dance has both Lasya and Tandava or vigorous movements
Manipuri dance has both Lasya and Tandava or vigorous movements

As a dance form, Manipuri is traditional and ritualistic, and playing the drums is an integral part of it. Unfortunately, Mumbai has a long way to go in terms of creating awareness about the dance form, says Swapnokalpa Dasgupta, Head of Dance Programming at NCPA. “Manipuri dance is not very popular at present as there are no major schools in the city, apart from Manipuri Nartanalaya. Aside from a lack of exposure, students only show interest in learning dance pieces that they can perform immediately as opposed to training in the art form,” says Dasgupta.

Some of the reasons that have hindered the spread of this dance form have been the difficulty of getting accompanying artistes such as drummers (who are accorded pride of place in the traditional rituals) to leave the state and a lack of rail connectivity from the interiors of the North-East to other parts of the country.

Dasgupta adds that contrary to perceptions, the dance form can be quite vigorous as well: “It has both the measured Lasya and the more vigorous and fast Tandava aspects which are enjoyable to even a lay audience.”

This residency aims to not only benefit dance practitioners but also encourage audience building. “The residency is open to advanced students and artistes of Manipuri dance as well as beginners,” sums up Dasgupta.

On: August 23, 6 pm
At: Experimental Theatre, NCPA, Nariman Point.
On: August 24, 11 am to 12.30 pm and 1 pm to 3 pm
At: Sea View Room, NCPA, Nariman Point.
Call: 22824567

On August 23, which is Guru Bipin Singh’s 96th birthday, Darshana Jhaveri will dedicate a performance, titled Guruda Katchari, to him. It will be followed by his daughter Bimbavati Devi’s presentation representing the next generation’s work.
>> On August 24, there will be a lecture-demonstration and workshop by Darshana Jhaveri which will be complemented by archival video clippings of Guru Bipin Singh. It will be followed by a workshop, in which the basic form of Manipuri dance in Lasya and Tandava dance movements with basic Manipuri talas, hand gestures and their uses, will be taught to participants.

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