Culture, Music, Dance, and Theater
masked drama, Srinakharinwirot University, Ramakien, Lakhon, royal titles
Thai classical dance developed from the court music of India. Today, the movements of Thai dance and the music accompanying it remain predominantly Indian, although some of the instruments used in a Thai orchestra are unique. A typical work begins with a structured composition that evolves naturally into improvisation. The music and dance of Thailand is closely related to that of Cambodia and Laos. Themes are often drawn from the Ramakien and focus on Rama and his beautiful wife Sita.
Private and government-sponsored groups have been working to preserve Thailandís heritage in music and dance. The premier dance troupe at Srinakharinwirot University has achieved international acclaim for its performances abroad, which have included venues in the United Kingdom, Europe, the United States, and Asia. Some dancers have received royal titles conferred by the king in recognition of their contributions.
Thailandís traditional form of theater is khon (masked drama), which is based on ancient court rituals and depicts tales from the Ramakien. Performances involve elaborate, colorful masks and costumes and highly formalized action. Lakhon, less formal than khon, is a dance-drama involving elegant and fluid movement performed without masks. In nang yai, large, black shadow puppets made from cowhide are manipulated by dancer-puppeteers.
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