Me And My Manipuri Things

Guru Bipin Singha : Populariser of Manipuri Dance and Style

Posted on: November 19, 2007

A few decades ago Manipuri dance was not as popular as the other classical dance forms. But the subtlety of the tender dance form and the variety of the rhythm impressed Rabindranath Tagore so much that he is credited with introducing this enchanting style to the other parts of the world. Renowned gurus were invited to teach this dance form in Tagore’s idyllic institute, Shantiniketan. Gradually the practice of this dance form extended outside the Manipuri community and was practiced with great enthusiasm, especially among the Bengalis. Following that initial period, the individual who can be credited for empowering and popularising the dance form, is Guru Bipin Singha.

Guru Bipin Singha was born on August 24, 1918 in a Bishnupriya Manipuri family deeply involved in Manipuri Culture. His grandfather P. Tona Singha was a Manipuri Maiba (priest), his father Laikhomsana Singha was a poet and his mother Indubala Devi was a vocalist. Thus dance and music are in his blood.

Right from his childhood Guru Bipin Singha received intensive and elaborate training in the art of Manipuri dancing from various experts residing in Manipur and its surrounding districts like Cachar, Sylhet and Tripura. Guru Bipin Singha is a rare combination of a dancer, choreographer, scholar and a teacher. For over the last 50 years he had dedicated himself to the task of exploring and revealing the classical elements of Manipuri dancing in order to preserve, promote and propagate the art form in its pristine purity.


His genius for creating and innovating dance compositions and choreography had given him a rightful place among the choreographers of Indian dance. He composed various dance items, emphasising each classical element in a stylised way, bringing out its beauty to the fullest and keeping true to its original form and spirit. He gave a new direction to dance dramas and choreographed them keeping within the traditional framework. From within these dance dramas he chose the solo pieces and re-choreographed them for the stage, thereby making them complete. He was a pioneer in introducing solo dance performances in the Manipuri style.

Through studies and researches, he had continually established a significant correlation between the available Vaishnavite and other Indian texts on dance, as well as the oral tradition of Manipuri dance and music. His scholastic abilities had enabled him to analyse, classify, systematise and codify various aspects of Manipuri dance and create fundamental and universal principles and disciplines to impart effective training.

Guru Bipin Singha in collaboration with his well-known disciples Jhaveri sisters and Kalavati Devi, founded Manipuri Nartanalaya in Bombay, Kolkata and Manipur. The creative contribution of Guru Bipin Singha and the Jhaveri sisters had been to bring the traditional and classical dances of Manipur from the temples to the theatre without altering its form and spirit.

The state of Manipur recognised his scientific attitude and scholarly approach and had accredited his ‘school’ of dancing as a significant ‘gharana’ of Manipuri dance.In order to acknowledge and appreciate his contribution to the field of dance, Guru Bipin Singha was awarded with many prestigious awards among which were Nrityacharya by Maharaja of Manipur, National Sangeet Natok Academy awards given by Late Indira Gandhi, Uday Shankar Fellowship Calcutta, Kalidas Samman Madhya Pradesh, Anamika Kala Sangam Awards Calcutta and many others.


Guru Bipin Singha’s teachings and the Manipuri dance style were popularised in Bangladesh by Shantibala Sinha and Kalavati Devi at Chhayanat. Two of her direct students Sharmila Bandyopadhyay and Tamanna Rahman are now carrying on the legacy of Guru Bipin Singha in Bangladesh and introducing the young generation of dancers to the Manipuri style.

Contributed by: Tamanna Rahman | Dhaka

9 Responses to "Guru Bipin Singha : Populariser of Manipuri Dance and Style"

YOU BISHNUPRYA HAVE GONE FAR, NOW YOU CLAIM MANIPURI DANCE OF YOUR PROPERTY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHY DID NOT MENTION THAT BIPIN SINGH WAS MARRIED WITH THE MEITEI FAMOUSE ARTIST KALAVATI??/ GET YOUR FACT STRAIGHT, RIGHT?

Mr. Kangleyol please read the article properly and first make your facts right. It is not about the personal life of Guru Bipin Singh. It is about his professional life. And i think you know very well the difference between professional and personal life. And yes, Guru Bipin Singh is married to famous dancer Kalavati Devi. But be clear that it is not that he became famous because he married Kalavati Devi. It is because of Guru Bipin Singh, that Kalavati Devi became famous. And for your kind information he is a Bishnupriya Manipuri. And he is the first person who brought Manipuri dance to the world platform. Will you deny all this. So, please stop writing all this. And Mr Ashim Sinha has written everything true as far as i know. So, i dont know for what reason you felt so annoyed.

Regards…Bimal

In the whole article there was nothing against Kalavati Devi who is no doubt versatile manipuri artists, but my finding tells it was way back 1955 when Kalavati started to take dance lessons in a systematic way under Guru Bipin Singha and they got married later on. So it was Kalavati Devi who became famous due to Guru Bipin Singha. Whatever claim you make for thr origin and delopment of manipuri dance style, you can not just ignore Bishnupriya Manipuris and their great contribution in the field of popularising Manipuri dance and culture. I hope no one will take this in the other way. Best reagrds.

Hi,

I wish to engage 5 manipuri sword dancer for two months to perform at Singapore during July and August 08. If you able to supply, please send me an email.

Thanks you & Best regards.

Rayland Nah

Guru Bipin Singha is a genius a nd a prolific ststure with all teh requisite skills in him…proud to be his grandson and hope to restore and retain his cultural background and upbringing if not in dance than obviously in songs….

people who are ignorant of this caste and language,better dont call it bullshit or else he or she is a bullshit and underdogged personality who needs to treated as a super nonsense and stupid

however kalabati devi has her own powers of skills and capability who cannot be simply sidelined into a picture being popularised by her guru,husband,Guru Bipin Singha…she is a legend at her own,so hats off to her

people with little knowledge is really dangerous both for a community and for the well being of mankind…because they seem to understand only their particular views rather paying any heed to other’s view as well thereby sidelining into oblivion what he or she authentically is?????????????so,lets not be inhumane by the comments of some unimportant people

stop talking nonsenses. only the immatures talk much. i am 120% sure that the great Guru Bipin Singha and KALAVATI devi never look one another like us because they are mature persons and know the closeness of these communities.

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