The tribal dances of Arunachal Pradesh may be divided into the following categories:
- The Ritual Dances
a) The ritualistic dances performed to secure happiness, good health and prosperity of the dancers, his family and village.
b) Ritualistic dances performed for the ceremonies related to agricultural activities and domestication of animals.
c) The dances associated with the performance of funeral ceremonies.
d) The dances associated with fertility rites of the local people.
- The Festival Dances
- Recreational Dances
- Pantomimes and Dance-Dramas
The dances of the state of Arunachal Pradesh are briefly described as follows:
The Wancho Dance
The Ozele festival is very popular among the members of the Wancho tribe. It is usually celebrated in the month of February-March. It is celebrated after the sowing of millets. The dance is usually performed at the village chief’s house, between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. Male members of all ages and young married women participate in the dance. The dance is primarily performed by the males and is followed by the female dancers, after the males retreat. Swords are held by the male dancers, in their right hands, during the performance. A cane basket hangs over the buttocks of the dancers, from the waist. Loin cloths of white or blue colour are worn by the male dancers, whereas the female dancers wear brightly coloured and decorated cloths. The tinkling of the bells, which hang loosely from the baskets, is the only musical sound accompanying the dance.
The Idu Mishmi Ritual Dance
The Idu Mishmi tribe of Arunachal Pradesh participate in the fertility dance and ritual dance. The fertility dance is usually celebrated on the last day of the Rren ceremony. The priest and priestesses preside over the ceremonies of Mesalah, Rren, Ai-him and Ai-ah. The beating of drums usually accompany the dances.
The priests wears loin-cloth, short-sleeved coats, beaded necklaces, leather bag slung on the right side, a sword, cowry studded head bands, necklaces studded with the teeth of tiger and a few metal bells. The priestess wears Mishmi skirt, beaded necklaces and short-sleeved clothes. Horn bugles and drums, usually accompany the dance performance.
Both the priest and the priestess perform the dance alternatively. There are a numerous variant of dance movements during the performance. Besides the priest and the priestess, the dancers are also selected from amongst the spectators.
Digaru Mishmi Buiya Dance
The Digaru Mishmi tribe of Arunachal Pradesh usually perform two varieties of dance known as Buiya and Nuiya. Nuiya is a ritualistic dance, whereas Buiya dance is performed for entertainment.
Buiya dance is performed on any particular occasion such as Tazampu, Duiya and Tanuya. The mentioned festivals are usually performed for the health and prosperity of the community. The male dancers usually wear loin-cloth, sleeveless jackets, turbans and earrings. The female performers wear long skirts, blouse and side bags. Feet and body movements are interspersed during the performance. Drums, gongs and cymbals usually accompany the performance of the dance.
The Khampti Dance
The Kamptis, Buddhists by religion, perform numerous dance dramas, depicting the old stories and mythological accounts. These dance dramas are usually staged on the occasion of Khamsang, Sankian and Potwah. They portray the entertainment part of a festival. This dance form is almost exclusively performed by men and is usually performed in the monasteries. The rehearsal for the performance usually begins a month before the actual performance.
Ka Fifai Dance-Drama
The Ka Fifai is also a dance-drama, which enacts the story of the kidnapping of the daughter of a man by ghosts, while walking in the garden. The drama further goes on to narrate how the ministers of the King, plan and execute the rescue of the girl from the clasps of the ghosts.
Ponung Dance (Adis)
Ponung dance is very popular among the tribal people of the Adi village. A group of girls dance in a circular pattern, while the leader i.e. a man sings out the Miri song aloud, from the centre of the group. Ponung is performed on almost all festive occasions.
The Sadinuktso dance is very popular among the members of the Akas tribe. It is performed on almost every occasions of the tribe. It is especially performed during the marriage or construction of a new house. The dance is performed by a group of boys and girls each. The main dance is performed alternately by a member from each group, until all the dancers have completed their performance.