Thursday, April 9, 2009

Khmer Classical Dance - រាំក្បាច់ខ្មែរ

Khmer classical dance (រាំក្បាច់ខ្មែរ) is a form of dance from Cambodia which shares some similarities with the classical dances of Thailand and Laos.

The Cambodian form is known by various names in English, such as Khmer Royal Ballet and Cambodian Court Dance. In The Cambridge Guide to Theatre and in UNESCO's Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity list, it is referred to as the Royal Ballet of Cambodia, although UNESCO also uses the term "Khmer classical dance." In Khmer, it is formally known as robam preah reachea trop, which means 'dances of royal wealth' or simply robam.

During the Lon Nol regime of Cambodia, its name was changed to robam kbach boran khmer, literally meaning 'Khmer dance of the ancient style', a term which does not make any reference to its royal past. Being a highly stylized art form performed primarily by females, Khmer classical dance, during the French protectorate era, was largely confined to the courts of royal palaces, performed by the consorts, concubines, relatives, and attendants of the palace; thus, Western names for the art often make reference to the royal court.

The dance form is also showcased in several forms of Khmer theatre (lkhaon) such as Lkhaon Kbach Boran (the main genre of classical dance drama performed by women) and Lkhaon Khaol (a genre of dance drama performed by men). Khmer classical dancers are often referred to as apsara dancers, which in the modern sense would be incorrect as the apsara is only a type of character performed by the dancers.