Israeli Bnei Menashe girls learn dance traditions of their past
Bnei Menashe girls from Nof Hagalil learn the traditional bamboo dance of Mizoram in advance of Aliyah Day.
Their teacher, Dena Relte, made aliyah herself from Mizoram in 2014. In fact, it would probably hard to find a qualified teacher of this complex dance who didn’t hail from that region.
The bamboo dance, also called Cheraw, is a traditional dance of Mizoram. It is considered to be one of the oldest dances there. The dance is believed to have emerged out of a ritual.
There used to be special dances only for the boys, when someone died. They would dance as a form of escorting the the dead on their way to the next world, to say goodbye. Later this fascinating dance form took shape much as the way it remains today.
In the Cheraw dance form, bamboos are kept in horizontal or cross formation on the ground. Pairs of these bamboo staffs are held by six to eight people. The boys move these bamboos to a rhythmic beat while the girls move gracefully while stepping in and out of the bamboo formations.
The bamboos are clapped together by the boys to a specific beat. The clapping produces a sharp sound which is used as a marker to maintain rhythm and timing of steps. The dancers are attired in colorful traditional costumes like the thihna, vakiria, kawrchei and puanchei.