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Deep in the Himalayan valley of Manipur, bordering Burma, dance and music is an integral part of the daily life of people. During special occasions, ritual dances are held all night in temple courtyards portraying the lives Radha and Krishna. “In Manipur, till today the temple tradition is alive. The devotees are still performing ritual dance dramas portraying the life of Lord Krishna,” says Sohini Ray, Artistic Director of Manipuri Dance Visions. The Manipuri Dance Visions Ensemble of Los Angeles brings you a show based on such a temple dance-drama consisting of two major pieces: Krishna Ningshingba and Khubak-Ishei, as part of the first annual Santa Cruz Fringe Festival.

The production is taken from the nightlong ritual dance dramas held in the temple courtyards. In the full–moon night of autumn the as Lord Krishna was playing his flute in the forest several gopis left their homes to be with him. Krishna gave them company but left them as they became self-conscious with pride in being with the Lord.

Deeply philosophical in its significance this piece represents the difficult journey of human life and the yearning for the human soul to unite with divinity. The gopis representing ordinary human being long for Lord Krishna’s company and their desire for uniting with the lord symbolizes the eternal human quest for divinity.

This theatrical work also showcases the rarely seen mask dances of Bakasur, the crane demon whom young Krishna kills and also the festival dance Khubak Ishei where men and women sing and dance clapping their hands as they carry the image of Lord Jagannath, traditionally celebrated in June-July during the chariot festival or Rathayatra.

Remembering Krishna in Manipuri Dance

Saturday, July 14. 8 p.m. Louden Nelson auditorium, 301 Center Street, Santa Cruz. $10

Santa Cruz Fringe Festival, July 13 to 22. 200 performances by 40 different acts, that are avant-garde, edgy and out of the box as well as traditional and from a variety of cultures

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