Crafting a legacy for Manipuri dance form in India and abroad

A two-time recipient of the President’s award, Manipuri dance exponent Sanjib Bhattacharya’s journey with the dance form goes back 36 years. He started learning dance in Kolkata under the tutelage of Guru Bipin Singh who, he recollects, told him to “learn a dance form that is most suited for your body and mind”.

After experimenting with and learning Kathak, Bharatnatyam, Mohiniattam and Kathakali, Bhattacharya found his calling in Manipuri dance, and went onto achieve excellence in the dance form under the guidance of Padmashri Darshana Jhaveri, Kalavati Devi, Manjushree Chaki Sircar and Mamata Shankar.

Today, this DLF Phase 3-resident is one of the most reputed Manipuri dance artistes in the country, and has performed extensively in India and abroad, including some of the most prestigious national dance festivals such as Khajuraho, Konark, Mahabalipuram and in the opening ceremony of South Asian Games-2016, among many more.

He has also represented India on many platforms abroad and was selected as the Indian dance representative for Asia Pacific Cultural Exchange Programme organised and hosted by The University of California, Los Angeles in 2016.

While he has been honoured with multiple awards and scholarships from the Ministry of Culture, Government of India, there is one particular compliment he holds closest to his heart.

“It was an absolute honour when Dr APJ Abdul Kalam told me that for him, every minute of my performance was a spiritual experience,” he said.

Immersed in his art form, Bhattacharya finds Manipuri dance a perfect amalgamation of ‘lasya’ and ‘tandava’ that translates to sensuality and vigour.

”Manipuri dance is as much an aggressive dance for men, as it is a feminine dance for women. Roles and moves on the stage are extremely well sketched out and defined,” he said.

Bhattacharya said he wants to take the legacy of Manipuri dance to different corners of India and the world with his workshops. Bhattacharya has gone beyond being a performer to someone who uses dance to develop intelligence, raise environmental issues and create greater awareness about Indian arts and culture. He regularly performs and takes workshops in Poland, USA, UK, Germany and India.

In December, he conducted a three-day intensive Manipuri dance workshop in Gurugram and taught students at a reputed school in the city. He considers Gurugram a cultural cauldron as people from all states of India live here and bring their uniqueness to the city, but he also hopes that they city gets more avenues for artistes to perform.

First Published:
Jun 14, 2019 04:44 IST

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