No visit to Cambodia is complete without attending at least one traditional Khmer dance performance, often referred to as 'Apsara Dance' after one of the most popular Classical dance pieces. Traditional Khmer dance is better described as 'dance-drama' in that the dances are not merely dance but are also meant to convey a story or message.
In 1940s, Queen Sisowath Kossomak Nearirath Serey Vatthana, the wife of King Norodom Suramarit, was sent an invitation to Sothearath primary school, seeing the school mistress prepared an inspirational angkor apsara dance which is performed by young school in the paper apsara costume includes Crown, Sampot and Flower, all referencing Apsara represented at Angkor Wat. The Queen got the idea to re-create the dance and led her first granddaughter, Princess Norodom Buppha Devi, a daughter of Norodom Sihanouk, to become the first professional apsara dancer of the modern era. The Princess started practicing the dance since she was 5 years old and danced apsara for first time during King Norodom Sihanouk's tenure. In 1967, the fine–boned young princess, clad in silk and glittering jewels, performed beneath the stars on the open pavilion within the palace walls, accompanied by the royal dance troupe and the "pinpeat" orchestra. Selected by her grandmother, Queen Sisowath Kossomak, to become a dancer when she was only a baby. She toured the world as the principal dancer of the apsara role.
The costumes of the apsara role is based on the devatas as depicted on bas-relief of Angkor Wat. They wear a sampot sarabap, a type of silk brocade that is intricately pleated in the front.
The headdress of the lead apsara has five points or tips, with two rows of spherical decorations like the apsara pictured at Angkor Wat. Headdress worn by the subordinate dancers commonly have three points and only one row of sphere decoration. These crowns often include garlands of artificial hair with ornate adornments. The five-points crowns are frequently absent in modern dance routines.
This gorgeous round decorative collar (red colored) is highly visible, found just below the neck the collar is embellished with detailed gold colored copper ornaments and beaded designs. The elaborate decorations is usually found gracefully decorated on two separate rows. Additional copper ornaments are found hanging below these rows, in the shape of difficult-to-describe warped spear tips. The largest of which is centralized. Dangling earrings, which are bound in bunches, traditionally stretch almost to the shoulder. These dangling earrings are mainly duplicated from the design of the 'krorsang' flower (a large spiny tree with sour fruit) and are preferred to the 'mete' (chili) flowers, which are held to be less beautiful. There are a total of four types of wrist jewelry: kong rak, patrum, kong ngor, and sanlek. The first is a truly beautiful diamond-like studded bracelet a fine and elegantly wrist jewel decorated in a tree branch-like fashion, the second is more of a spring-like coiled gold colored thick copper while the third type of bracelet (two sets are worn) are small round beaded orb/sphere bunches delicately connected to one another, the last bracelet is an intricate and well decorated thickly rounded jewel. Additionally an Apsara dancer may be found wearing a garland of jasmine. Two types of gold ankle jewelry are usually worn by the Apsara dancer, the first being kong tong chhuk the second kong ngor (or kong kravel). The sangvar is a loosely decorated band of beads worn crosswise. The golden flower is considered a body-decorating element, either worn on the waist or carried during the performance. It too is gold in color, and made of thin flexible copper.
Performance Venues in Siem Reap
There are occasional dance performances at the temples but most visitors attend one of the nightly dinner performances at a local restaurant. Dinner ordinarily begins at 6:30pm and dance performances will start at 7:30PM to 8:30PM, consisting of 4 or 5 dances, lasting about an hour in all. (Contact the performance venue for specifics.) Many places offer a buffet featuring Khmer and international food. Some offer a set menu Khmer dinner. Price and venue style vary considerably. Most restaurants with buffets and set menus run between $10 to $12 including the buffet and performance drink is exclude, Some restaurants do not charge admission for the performance, but you are expected to order dinner. For the best seats, contact Kriss for reservations, especially during the high season He be able to get in front sit next to the show for you, Normally between 100 to 400 persons will join the show, So without booking it too difficult to watch the show and taking picture after the end of the show you can take picture with the performance dancer for souvenir and memories, Ps, for booking please specify the best date and location address I will pick up at 06:15pm and return to your place after the end of the show, ( the pick up and return is free of charge )
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