The origins of Manipuri dancing can be traced back to ancient times, to the isolated state of Manipur, northwest India. Here, inspired by the sacred dance forms of Shiva and Parvati, a unique cultural routine developed, and Manipuri dancing has since been a cornerstone of the region’s frequent religious festivals and rituals.
Manipuri is, without doubt, one of India’s most storied and fascinating classical dance forms. Focusing prominently on the separation of Gopi and Radha from Krishna, the dance incorporates a number of forms, including Ras, Sankirtana and Thang-Ta, each of which has a multitude of different steps and movements. The ‘Thang-Ta’ portion of the routine, performed exclusively by men, is more akin to martial arts, and reflects the idea that Manipuri men were, traditionally at least, expected to defend their home and community from rival tribes and wild animals.