Dance in Cambodia
: របាំ robam
) consists of three main categories: classical dance of the royal court used for invocation, entertainment and to pay homage, folk dance which portrays cultural traditions, and social dances performed in social gatherings.
Cambodia's premier performing art form is the Khmer classical dance, or Robam Preah Reach Trop
, a highly stylized dance form originating from the royal courts. Performances of classical dance consist of elaborately costumed dancers and music played by a pinpeat ensemble. It is performed for invocation of deities and spirits as well as to pay homage to royalty and guests. In the mid-20th century, it was introduced to the general public and became widely celebrated as iconic of Cambodian culture, often being performed during public events, holidays, and for tourists visiting Cambodia. Two of the most performed classical dance are the Robam Chuon Por
("Wishing dance") and the Robam Tep Apsara
Western names for this dance tradition often make reference to the royal court; including Cambodian court dance as it was performed and maintained by the attendants of the royal palaces. As a performing art, it is formally referred to as the Royal ballet of Cambodia (and as Le ballet royal du Cambodge in French) by UNESCO, Cravath, Brandon, and others in the academic field; although this term may also refer to the royal ballet as a corps, the National Dance Company of Cambodia. The term "Khmer classical dance" is also used alongside "Royal Ballet of Cambodia" in the publications by UNESCO and mentioned authors.
In Khmer, it is formally known as Robam Preah Reach Trop (របាំព្រះរាជទ្រព្យ, lit. dances of royal wealth) or Lakhon Preah Reach Trop (ល្ខោនព្រះរាជទ្រព្យ, lit. theatre of royal wealth).[unver. 2] It is also referred to as Lakhon Luong (ល្ខោនហ្លួង, lit. the king's theatre). During the Lon Nol regime of Cambodia, the dance tradition was referred to as Lakhon Kbach Boran Khmer (ល្ខោនក្បាច់បូរាណខ្មែរ, lit. Khmer theatre of the ancient style), a term alienating it from its royal legacy.
Khmer classical dancers, as a whole, are frequently referred to as apsara dancers by laymen; in the modern sense, this usage would be incorrect in the present-form of the dance as the apsara is just one type of character among others in the repertoire. Regardless, the romanticized affiliation of Royal Ballet of Cambodia with the apsaras and devatas of the ruins of Angkor still persists. Read more...