Tap tap tap… young Mizo girls hop in and out of clacking bamboo poles in perfect unison without missing a step. One wrong step and the girls could risk injuring their ankles as they show off their skill in the fascinating Cheraw dance of Mizoram.
Both men and women participate in the dance. The men sit on the ground facing each other as they open and close the long horizontal pairs of bamboo poles that are supported by two bases, one at each end. The women clad in colourful ethnic costumes dance with utmost skill and concentration as they step in and out of the poles, weaving seemingly complex patterns with their steps.
The tapping of the bamboo poles provides the rhythm of the dance. Gongs and drums add to the vibrant tempo.
Cheraw was originally a funeral dance, but is now performed during festivals, marriages or to celebrate a bumper harvest.