Manipuri Dance Visions

Northeast Indian Manipuri dance

Manipuri dance originates in the northeast Indian state of Manipur deep in the Himalayas where dance is an integral part of life. This region is extremely complex in terms of its religious beliefs and practices.  The Meitei community of Manipur had their own religion and related ritual practices since ancient times, but converted to Hindu Vaishnavism in the eighteenth century.  What followed was an era of syncretic adoption of the two religious traditions.  The Meiteis adopted the Hindu Vaishnavite festivals but added a new dimension to them – dance and music.

At the same time, the Meiteis never discarded their pre-Hindu religion, and associated rituals and festivals.  Thus several interlinked sub-traditions have emerged.  Manipuri dance is one of the few dance forms of India where the temple tradition is still alive; the performance tradition for the mainstream stage has been adapted from the living temple dance tradition.

Manipuri Dance Visions, founded by Dr. Sohini Ray, is a training institute of Manipuri dance, a performing ensemble, and a research archives open to any artist or academic.  Manipuri Dance Visions is the only Manipuri dance company on the West Coast and performs traditional repertoire adapted for the western stage.

As a participant in ACTA’s Traditional Arts Development Program in 2009, Manipuri Dance Visions worked with consultant Rashmi Pujari to design a website to disseminate information about Manipuri dance and also the company’s activities in the field, namely teaching, research, and performances.