Saturday, October 07, 2006

Apsara Dance

Classical Cambodian ballet is a stunningly graceful, 2,000-year-old blend of sinuous hand gestures and sensuous body movements, all deep with meaning. The graceful movements of the Apsara dancers, adorned with brilliant gold headdresses and colorful, silk tunics and skirts, are carved on the walls of many of the temples at Angkor. Estimates are that there were 3,000 Apsara dancers in the 12th century court of King Jayavarman VII.

Dancing holds great significance for the Khmer people, and the government considers the Royal Ballet in particular to be a national treasure. In the past, the classical dance was the Royal dance, performed only before kings to commemorate their dynastic ancestors and to honor the gods.

The Apsara tradition was devastated by the Pol Pot years. Dancers were killed in large numbers as symbols of bourgeoise excess, and only a few instructors survived to keep the ancient tradition alive.

Until I can embed it, you can watch one of my videos of the dance here.


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Tori said...

Oops. I mixed your name up with the name of another blogger. Sorry, Melissa.