Robam at Prasat Bayon

Starting tomorrow and for the next 7 days I plan to have a “Cambodian Temple Week” where I will be posting an image of a Cambodian temple each day along with a brief description. I will be choosing images that are not the classical views of the temples but perhaps show some other aspects of the temple sites that are perhaps not so commonly published.
As a pre-cursor then to this theme of “Cambodian Temples” this image is to get everyone in the Cambodian mood. 
Visiting the Khmer Bayon Temple in Siem Reap, Cambodia I came across these traditional dancers practising their dance in full costume providing a colourful break from the dark gray colours of the temple.
Dance in Cambodia (Khmer: Robam) is the main dramatic art form of Cambodia. Cambodian dance can be divided into three main categories: classical dance which developed in the royal courts, folk dance which portrays everyday life, and vernacular dance which is danced at social functions.
Khmer classical dance, also known as Khmer royal ballet or Khmer court dance, is a form of Cambodian dance originally performed only for royalty. It is called robam preah reachea trop in the Khmer language, which means ‘dances of royal wealth.’
The dances have many elements in common with Thai classical dance, most likely a result of the royal Khmer court exchanging culture with the royal Thai court throughout the post-Angkor era. Khmer and Thai classical dance costumes once looked very similar to each other, but Khmer dance and costume have undergone slight changes and reforms brought on by the former Queen of Cambodia, Kossamak Nearireath. In the mid-20th century, it was introduced to the general public and became widely celebrated as iconic of Khmer culture, often being performed during public events, holidays, and for tourists visiting Cambodia.
The well known royal ballet, Apsara Dance, is a major dance first performed for the recreation of princess Norodom Bopha Devi, the first Daughter of King Norodom Sihanoukat 1964.
Folk dances here refer to a performing art where it is performed for an audience. Khmer folk dances are fast-paced. The movements and gestures are not as stylized as Khmer classical dance. Folk dancers wear clothes of the people they are portraying such as Chams, hill tribes, farmers, and peasants. Some folk dances are about love, or are folktales about animals. The folk dance music is played by a mahori orchestra, which is similar to a pinpeat orchestra except that it contains many stringed and plucked instruments and a type of flute in place of the sralai (an oboe-like instrument). The kind of dance particularly performed depends on the area and its local birthplace. The most famous of all, Robam Trot, is mainly performed during the Cambodian New Year. The Dance got its history along a legend about a hunter and deer.
In Cambodia, vernacular dance (or social dance) are dances which are danced at social gatherings. Such dances include ram vongram kbachram saravan, lam leav (literally: “Lao dance”) and so on. Some of these dances have much influence from the traditional dances of Laos. But rom kbach, for example, take heavily from the classical dance of the royal court. Rom kbach is a simple dances which uses hand gesture similar to that of classical dance and rom kbach song also utilize the melodies of classical dance songs and combine them with traditional Khmer and Western instruments.

Other social dances from around the world have had an impact on Cambodian social culture include the Cha-cha, Bolero, and the Madison. Such dances are often performed at Cambodian wedding receptions and banquets.

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