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'Manipur: Jewel of India' at Manipur Sangai Tourism Festival
- Rajmani Ayekpam
Photos: Oinam Lamdamba

January 10, 2020

Since last few years, the choreography work being presented in the opening and closing ceremony of Manipur Sangai Tourism Festival has become a centre of attraction and a good opportunity for talented choreographers of the state to showcase their skills.  After testing many choreographers, young but talented choreographer Sinam Basu is the new find of the state for Manipur Sangai Tourism Festival.

The artistic talent of Basu was recognized by presenting his choreographic work Laigi Machasing (sons and daughters of god and goddess) during the closing ceremony of Manipur Sangai Tourism Festival 2018 representing Progressive Artistes Laboratory (PAL). Every spectator was mesmerized by the wonderful presentation, with lot of appreciation in the local newspapers and social media. Laigi Machasing brought a modern choreographic outlook in the world of Manipuri dance and music. How to amalgamate heavy sets and props with soft and rhythmic movement of Manipuri dance is another dimension. Earlier, Manipuri choreographic work was not suitable for bigger stages but Basu wisely used the big stage of Bhagyachandra Open Air Theatre (BOAT) to showcase his skillful presentation supported by larger than life size props and heavy sets. It shows that soft and rhythmic movement of Manipuri dance is also suitable for grand show of any mega event.

The nuances of Manipuri dance emerged out of a vigorous dancing movement of a big dragon. Chinglai is the local name of a popular dragon and it has mythological significance in history. Then, the long journey of Manipuri dance one after another was depicted. Manipur is famous for its multi ethnicity of art and culture. Shiroy Lily bloomed at the top of the Shiroy hill representing its rich cultural heritage. Though Basu is young, he is well experienced in participating in many festivals inside and outside the country.

This year again, Basu presented a choreographic work titled ‘Manipur – Jewel of India’ in the closing ceremony of the Sangai Manipur Tourism Festival  2019 held on 2nd December 2019 at BOAT. Despite hurried preparations due to law and order situation in the state, the presentation had the audience mesmerized.  The work began with the journey of Manipuri civilization. Then came cultural life of dances of pre-Hindu period, post-Hindu period and finally modern era. At last, Nongyin, the birth of the state of Manipur, with merry dancing represented unique character of Manipur.  Manipur had boat culture but it was not highlighted before in any performing arts of Manipur. Basu significantly used Hiyang Hiren (mythic figure of boat), an important boat in Manipur cultural life, even in its Royal Court.  At the outset, a huge size Hiyang Hiren running and dancing at every corner of BOAT was stunning to look at. Then came soft and rhythmic folk, traditional and classical dance one after another. Blending of costumes and huge props with soft and rhythmic dances was an important aspect of this work, showing why folk, traditional and classical dance is so important in Manipuri performing arts.

Presented by Progressive Artistes Laboratory, Basu was supported by well experienced N. Tiken Singh (script, lyrics, music and overall supervision) with music assistance by O. Geet. Basu was assisted by N. Monika Devi and Ch. Narendra in choreography. A group of talented artistes and scholars like Budha Chingtham, N. Amusana Devi, and Dr. Makhonmani Mongsaba mentored this year’s ‘Manipur – Jewel of India’. The costumes were by Robinson, make-up by Elizabeth and S. Purnima. Sets were by Kujeshwar Singh, lights by L. Ibochouba Singh, props by N. Rohnichandra and R.K. Romeo.

Rajmani Ayekpam is a short story writer, playwright and art critic based in Imphal, Manipur.

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