A Tapestry of Hope 

with Ringwon  Tungshangnao 


Dancing is ‘pointless’, how will dancing and performing sustain you? they asked me. Dancing as a career is a ‘meaningless pursuit’ in Ukhrul, which is where I am from. It has no future, what would you yield from performing? they would repeat. Amidst the discouraging remarks and comments, life taught me two valuable lessons. One is facing adversities is how people grow. Another that I learned the hard way is to associate with people who see you, appreciate you and value you. A small-town girl, there is one thing I love to do the most in life; dancing. Dancing gives me freedom. Dancing makes me feel alive. Not only is it fun, it is therapeutic.

A small-town girl, there is one thing I love to do the most in life;dancing.

    Ringwon for Folkpants 

My early years in dancing were incredibly discouraging with half-hearted support from the family. Balancing life as a dance enthusiast and a student with academic responsibilities was demanding of me, physically, emotionally and psychologically. As a woman, making room for practice slots in between housekeeping chores was challenging. I could not escape the gendered responsibilities in a conditioned society, and eventually, I started considering alternate career choices. However, the burning passion in me for dance brought me back exactly where I needed to be. As I began to participate in competitions and battles, I, fortunately, would always come home victorious. Seeing my relentlessness and hard work, my parents slowly came around. Their moral and financial support is imperative to where I am today in doing what I love to do. 

To dance out of pure passion and raw talent is one. To train yourself in the different techniques and basics is another. To be trained not only enriches your experience but increases your credibility.

To be crude, there are no career prospects as a dancer in Ukhrul. This limitation, however, motivated me to hone my dancing skills by getting formal training in dance and performing arts. The discipline, hard work demanded of a person to keep up with the pace of the dance studio and trainers who are paid by the hour was so intense a pressure. An experience like no other. To dance out of pure passion and raw talent is one. To train yourself in the different techniques and basics is another. To be trained not only enriches your experience but increases your credibility. Not only did I develop as a dancer through the training, but it also broadened my horizon in multiple ways. The experience of a regimented routine at a certain pace whilst bounded by time and the development that comes from training alongside people acquainted with the discipline as opposed to dancing in one’s own comfort zone like I used to, bring about the realisation of a need to formalise dance in our community as well. The need for professionalism is reflected in how our community’s artists are paid for their expertise, skills and talent. In the initial years, I performed for unpaid events to spread awareness of dance as a form of expression. As I got older, I realised the need to institutionalise creative arts if we are to make a career out of this.

In my humble journey as a small-town girl in dance battles around the state to intensive professional training in the city, I have been fortunate enough to make friends in the profession. After years of collaborating with artists from different states and cities, I now have certain exposure and networks. I hope to start a dance studio in Ukhrul soon to create a space for equally passionate people to learn the art of self-sustenance through performing art and encourage fellow aficionados in Ukhrul. I hope to use my resources to breach the urban-rural gap regarding access, exposure and opportunities. Moving to cities to access training is a common phenomenon, I hope we can work together to bring qualified trainers to Ukhrul instead through periodic workshops. There is so much to dance than ability and flexibility. There are soft and interpersonal skills that become a big part of life as a performer. I hope it can be a place where people build their foundation before setting out for more advanced and intensive training. I have had to research painstakingly to find the right kind of training and studio to learn from. I hope, through the studio, I will be able to share what I have learned and acquired through my experience because I know what it is like to have no guidance when you could really use some.

I hope the plan materialises. It will give me a chance to create job opportunities within the town. In a society where public sector jobs are valued most high, a career in the creative arts sounds all bleak. However, in other parts of the world, it is possible. This gives me hope. It is encouraging to see people from my community starting to appreciate various forms of art. I feel that we are slowly beginning to realise the possibility of sustaining life through art. The community’s thirst for entertainment is one positive reason to believe that we have the market for it. Some have come out successful in their pursuits, slowly changing people’s attitudes. I think parents will start encouraging their children to explore the different forms of art.

Ringwon for Folkpants

Although community enrichment was an inspiration, my intention has always been to glorify God, to glorify His name. The credit to all that I am goes to God and God alone. This is Ringwon signing off with a Bible verse that has constantly inspired and kept me going.

‘Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.’(Matthew 5:16)

Article by Phokrizat Mayirnao