Manipuri is one of the six major classical dances of India. Manipuri dance is indigenous to Manipur, the North eastern state of India. The Manipuri dance style is inextricably woven into the life pattern of Manipuri people. The most striking part of Manipur dance is its colorful decoration, lightness of dancing foot, delicacy of abhinaya (drama), lilting music and poetic charm. The Manipuri dance form is mostly ritualistic and draws heavily from the rich culture of the state of Manipur. Costumes used in the Manipur dance are colorful and the music carries a quaint charm.
Manipuri dance is entirely religious and aims at gaining spiritual experience. The Manipuri dance is not only a medium of worship and delight but also essential for all socio-cultural ceremonies of Manipuri people. Looking from a religious and artistic point of view the Manipuri Classical dance is said to be one on the purest, modest, softest and mildest and meaningful dances.
Manipuri Dance is a common name and envelopes all the dance-forms of Manipur. Thus, Manipuri dance can be called a basket of various dances. According to legends the original creator of Manipuri dance was Radha and Krishna. This Rasa Leela dance is said to be repeated by Shiva and his consort, Goddess Uma in Lasya style (in Manipur). It is interesting to note that the same dance (Rasa-dance) was performed for the third time by two mortal human beings, princess Toibi and Khamba of Manipur. The dance performed by these two lovers is known as Lai Haraoba.
The most important facet of Manipuri culture is that it has preserved the ancient ritual based dances and folk dances along with the later developed classical Manipuri dance style. Of all the classical categories, the 'Ras Leela' (a greatly evolved dance drama, choreographed on 'Vaishnavite Padavalis') is the utmost expression of artistic genius, devotion and excellence of the Manipuri people.