Talking about Cambodia is talking to palatial Angkor Temples of Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom. However, during the most glorious time of Khmer Empire, not only holy Angkor Temples were built but also flexible Khmer dance was created and completed. Khmer Dance is the quintessence of Khmer culture which representing Khmer history, cultural traditions and the art of choreographing dance of Khmer people.
Art Performances in Cambodia
There are three main types of dance in Cambodia: Classical dance, Folk Dance and Social Dance.
Classical Dance is the oldest dance art performance in Cambodia. According to historic documents, Khmer classical dance is created by royal courts and only served the royal family. During the long history of developing and completing, Classical Dance has become a pinnacle art in all ways: costumes, postures, movements and choreograph. Each performance of classical dance is the perfect co-operation of costumed dancers and traditional orchestra. Especially, these performances are to invocate deities and spirits as well as express respect to the royal family and guests. In the middle of the 20th century, Classical Dance was introduced to the public; since then it has become a popular art performance in festivals, important ceremonies and for tourists. Classical Dance has many types but Robam Chuon Por (Wishing Dance) and Robam Tep Apsara are among the most popular and quintessential. Especially, Apsara Dance has been the pride of Cambodian for centuries as it delicately carved in Banteay Srei Temple. Apsara Dance with dancers in glamorous costumes, taut posture and flexible movements together with codified facial expression will leave hard-to-forget impression.
Folk Dance is a kind of modern art performance in Cambodia created in the 20thcentury. As compared to Classical Dance, Cambodian folk dance is simpler and faster. In folk dance performance, instead of wearing glamorous and delicate costumes like Classical Dance, dancers often wear more casual clothes to portray characters in their performances such as hill tribes, farmers and peasants. Love or folk tales are often the topics of folk dance’s performance. Frequently, folk dance performance is supported by a mahori orchestra. There are many type of folk dance: Trot Dance, Sneak Toseay Dance, Robam Kom Araek, Robam Kngaok Pailin and Chhhayam. Each type has distinguished characteristics and portrays a particular face of life. Most of folk dance represent producing activities of Cambodians through which Cambodians’ love for their works and their labor outcomes are reflected in a vivid and colorful way.
In national festivals and events, you will find Cambodians excited to dance together. This bustling activity is called as the Social Dance. Social dance inherits Khmer traditional dance and adapts social dances from around the world. Social Dance is a frenetic activity that can not be excluded in banquet parties.