Venue: Epicentre, Gurgaon
Date: 31 July 2015
India’s rich repertoire of classical music and dance covers all corners of the country. Tucked in the Northeast, one among the Seven Sisters, Manipur is a charming state that has a strong and distinctive impression in the areas of crafts, art and culture.
Manipuri dance, recognised as one of the eight classical dance forms of India, vibrates the serene charm of the verdant hills of Manipur. Manipur is steeped in Vaishnavism, thus, it is no surprise that Manipuri dance started as a votive activity and revolves around Lord Krishna.
Sovanabrata Sarkar and his wife Nutan Sovan Sarkar recently performed excerpts from Raasleela, the cornerstone of Manipuri dance, at Epicentre, Gurgaon. During the course of the show, Sovan spoke about Manipuri and Manipur. He said that Raasleela was an elaborate performance that covers the whole cycle of Krishna’s life. The complete Raasleela runs into hours and requires a large troop. They presented excerpts and started the performance with a piece on Krishna’s Gopis rendered by Nutan. She was clad in the very graceful traditional Manipuri dance attire that comprised the elaborate cylindrical skirt embroidered with golden design and a transparent veil. The second piece was rendered by Sovan. Dawning an intricate but elaborate head gear, yellow dhoti and an ornamental belt with tassels the dancer was a sight to behold. He presented the depiction of adolescent Krishna with all excitement on his way to Raasleela. Nutan performed another piece that comprised lyrical movements and cymbals. Further pieces included Nanichori, Krishna and Balram playing with a ball etc.
The accompaniment involved recorded music, categorized by hymns, taals and Ponga (Manipuri drums). The feet movements were very soft. Like classical ballet, most of it was on toes and the dancers did not wear ankle bells to highlight the footwork. After a hectic work day, the soothing presentation was a most de-stressing experience.