Manipuri is one of the six classical dance styles of India, the others being Bharata-natyam, Kathak, Kathakali, Kuchipudi, and Orissi. It is indigenous to Manipur, the north-eastern state of India and the indigenous people of this valley were said to be the dance-expert Gandharva's, mentioned in the epic Ramayana, Mahabharata and other religious scriptures.

Manipuri dance is purely religious and its aim is a spiritual experience. Development of music and dance has through religious festivals and daily activities of the Manipuri people. Not only is dance a medium of worship and enjoyment, a door to the divine, but indispensable for all socio-cultural ceremonies. From the religious point of view and from the artistic angle of vision, Manipuri Classical Form of dance is claimed to be one on the most chestiest, modest, softest and mildest but the most meaningful dances of the world.

The most obliging aspect of Manipuri culture is that, it has retained the ancient ritual based dances and folk dances along with the later developed classical Manipuri dance style. Among the classical categories, 'Ras Leela' - a highly evolved dance drama, choreographed on 'Vaishnavite Padavalis' composed by mainly eminent Bengali poets and some Manipuri Gurus, is the highest expression of artistic genius, devotion and excellence of the Manipuris.

Prominent Artists and SNA Awardees

  1. Amubi Singh 1956
  2. Haobam Atomba Singh 1958
  3. T. Amudon Sharma 1961
  4. Atombapu Sharma 1963
  5. Bipin Singh 1965
  6. Ojha Thangjam Chaoba Singh 1969
  7. Kshetri Tombi Devi 1972
  8. L. Koireng Singh 1973
  9. L. Ibemhal Devi 1974
  10. Rajani Maibi 1975
  11. Ojha Maibam Ibungohal Singh 1976
  12. Nayana Susheel Jhaveri 1977
  13. L. Thouranishabi Devi 1980
  14. L. Tombi Devi 1982
  15. Khaidem Lokeshwar Singh 1985
  16. Tarun Kumar Singh 1987
  17. Ibopishak Sharma 1988
  18. Th. Babu Singh 1990
  19. H. Ngangbi Devi 1993
  20. T. Nadia Singh 1994
  21. L. Thambalangoubi Devi 1995
  22. Darshana Jhaveri 1996
  23. Samanduram Tondon Devi 1997
  24. N. Madhabi Devi 1998
  25. Sorokhaibam Naran Singh 1999-2000
  26. Charu Sija Mathur 2001
  27. K. Ongbi Leipaklotpi Devi 2002
  28. Thiyam Suryamukhi Devi 2003
  29. Kalavati Devi 2003
  30. K. Radhamohon Sharma 2005
  31. L. Bino Devi 2009
  32. Phanjoubam Iboton Singh 2010
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