Gurus

Ojha Sarangthem "Meitei" Tomba (1906-1994)

Eminent scholar and performer on Meitei Pung (Drum)

Born December, 1906, at Brahmapur Nahabam Leikai in Imphal, Manipur, son of S. Chaoba Singha, learned pung from Aribam Gopal Sharma. Recipient of many awards and honors including the title of Sanapala Hanjaba during the time of Maharaja Bodhachandra. Before his death he was awarded the highest honor, Joy Patra, by Manipur State Government.

 

Guru Shri Bipin Singh, surrounded by his disciples (l. to r.) Kalavati Devi. Moirangthem Nabaghana Shyam, Binodini Devi, all of whom subsequently became popular teachers of Manipuri dance.

Guru Moirangthem Nabaghana Shyam Singha

Nabaghana Shyam (Naba) Singha is a DANCER, MUSICIAN, CHOREOGRAPHER, and MASTER TEACHER. An ethnic Manipuri (Meithei), he specializes in traditional dances from Manipur, folk, tribal, and classical dances from other parts of India, dance-drama, sitar, tabla, and Meithei pung (drum). He holds a dance diploma from Sri Sri Govindajee Nartanalaya academy of dance in Manipur.He gained international fame for his rendition of the "Pung Cholom" (Drum Dance).

Naba spent twelve years in Calcutta teaching dance in various cultural academies. He directed a variety program "Glimpses of India" for the Government of India Tourism Department. After transferring to New Delhi, Naba became head of the Dance and Music Department at Bluebells School International and established his own dance troupe, NRITYA RANGAM (Temple of Dance) which appeared frequently on stage and television.

After his marriage to dancer Christel Stevens, Naba came to the United States in April of 1983 and established NRITYA RANGAM in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Along with his wife and his senior students, Naba has performed at prestigious venues such as the Kennedy Center, Dance Place, the National Theater, Harmony Hall, and the Publick Playhouse, and universities from Colorado to Canada. Naba has received seven grants from the Prince Georges Arts Council to aid him in presenting performances of Indian dance to audiences statewide. In 1990, Naba received the Maryland State Arts Council Award for Choreography, the first Asian Indian to be so honored, and in 1997, he received the same honor a second time. In 1991, Naba was awarded the title "Nartanacharya" (Doctorate in Dance) by the Manipuri Nartanalaya of Calcutta in recognition of his ground-breaking services in bringing Manipuri dance to American audiences.

For the past ten years, Naba and his troupe have been presenting assembly programs in schools all across Maryland, DC and Virginia, introducing children of all ages to the dazzling world of India's ancient cultural traditions, through story-telling, music, and dance. Under the auspices of Arts Alive!, Young Audiences of Maryland, and the Washington Performing Arts Society, Naba has appeared in more than two hundred schools, with a message of intercultural understanding and artistic appreciation.

In 1996, Naba travelled to India as a member of a research team sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution, conducting a study of female dance gurus. In New Delhi, Naba was once again invited to perform on the National Programme of Dance. Naba has become a citizen of the United States in recent years, and his contributions to the world of Indian dance and music are a source of pride for the people of Maryland. In August of 1997, Naba and his troupe entertained the Governor of Maryland and numerous dignitaries and invited guests at the Indo-American Friendship Banquet celebrating India's fiftieth anniversary of Independence.

Guru Ksh. Ibetombi Devi

From the age of twelve years, Ibetombi Devi learned dancing from the great gurus Padmashri Amudon Sharma, Maisnam Amubi Singh, and others. Guru Ibetombi was the first female dancer from Manipur to travel internationally, bringing Manipuri Dance to audiences all over India as well as Australia, Indonesia, and Nepal. She performed for numerous dignitaries including U.S. President Eisenhower and Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. She established her own dance academy at Imphal, the Ibetombi Dance Center. Guru Ibetombi specializes in Maibi dancing, the ancient form of ritual dance which is only seen in Meitei communities. She is noted for her performance of the dance of Ima Leimaren, the Great Mother Goddess of the Meiteis. Ibetombi was the first female dancer to perform the Meitei Pung Cholom on stage, a drum dance previously performed by men only. For many years, Ibetombi was the dance teacher at the Banasthali Vidyapeeth outside of Jaipur, Rajasthan. She is married to Manipuri dancer and musician Shri Nava Chandra Singh. Their youngest daughter, Tombi Sana, is also an accomplished dancer. On July 19, 1992, Guru Ibetombi Devi was awarded the Manipur State Kala Academy award in recognition of her enduring contributions to the field of Meitei Jagoi.

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