Choreographer Thokchom Chaotombi Singh

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A brief profile by Jimmy Leivon

He was awarded Sangeet Natak Akademi for his contribution in the field of experimental creative dance, in the year 2005. He is a talented choreographer who brought laurel not only for the state but for the country in promoting the traditional dance form, drama and ballet.

Chaotombi also won the international award for Choreography for the film entitled “Sangai” in the year 1984, USA.

He was born in the year 1948, on the 1st of September. He is the youngest of the three siblings. Since both parents passed away at the very early age his two older brothers was the only guide for him.

He discovered his interest for choreography since his high school life. Recounting a day he really got captivated was, when he was in seven-standard (Johnstone High School). At that time, the present `Jawaharlal Nehru Manipur Dance Akademi (JNMDA)` shares its campus with the school. Often he used to catch a glimpse of the rehearsals after his classes. But one fine day he felt the sudden zeal of taking part in it, he said.

After finishing his matriculation instead of further pursuing higher studies, he joined the Natya Institution of Choreography from 1969-72 and received degrees on dance, drama and ballet.

In 1975 he got a job in the JNMDA for the post of Production Assistant. Two years later he got promoted to a choreographer and further promoted as the in-charge of the production unit in 1987. His career in the JNMDA serves as a launching pad, during this period; he had earned a name not only for himself but also for the state and the country.

Most of his work grounded on the classical form of dance, folk and traditional Meitei Dance, Martial Arts etc. He also received Gold medal for traditional dance with diploma degree in 1973 from JNMDA. So far he has directed 18 ballets which included the legend of Khamba-Thoibi, “Kaina” “Meghadoot” and the international award claimer film the “Sangai”, a story based on the theme of protection of the wildlife.

“Sangai” when it was premiered in the London Theater festival it got selected for one month tour for International Theater Festival in London and also premiering it in Seoul, South Korea. Having travelled around the world for a long time in dedication of his work, He took early retirement on October 31st, 2008. He did not entirely retired from his profession as he continues to travel and contributes occasionally. He is looking forward to write books on fundamentals of the Manipuri Ballet.

He stated that one of his best works is in his career are “Sangai” “Abirarika” (by Rabindranath Tagore) and “Khamnu”. He disclosed that the most challenging task as a choreographer is while trying to avoid repetition, one have to be very innovative. To become a successful choreographer one must have detailed knowledge and background of a particular subject while as a performer a person should be physically fit, possess sharp mental attitude and should also have a friendly gesture on the face.

For all that he have achieved today he gave his credit to late Amuyaima and Guru Lokeshore (traditional dance teachers). Chaotombi said that the most interesting persons he has worked with are (L) RK. Priyo Gopal (choreographer) and (L) Guru Tarun Kumar (Choreographer).

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