Apsara, Khmer Traditional Dance

Apsara dancers are some of the best in the world, and being able to perform the beautiful native dance known as Apsara is a highly coveted skill in Cambodia. 'Apsara' can be translated as 'nymph', and an apsara is a celestial water deity. Graceful and elegant, Apsara dancers evoke the ethereal wonder of these beings. Apsara dance was traditionally performed in Khmer temples such as Angkor Wat, and though today it is also often a feature of the Cambodian contemporary stage, it is also still performed in ancient sacred spots.

Experience Apsara Dance for Yourself when you Visit Cambodia

Apsara dance is extremely visually arresting. The dancers wear opulent costumes and glimmering gold head dresses. The movements of Apsara dance are usually described as having a balletic quality, often telling stories through a series of graceful leaps, bounds, and poses. A visit to an Apsara dance event is an essential item to include on your itinerary when you pay a visit to Cambodia. The combination of traditional music, unforgettable costumes, and amazing movements will stay with you forever. These dance performances are very common throughout the country, especially at Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, and so it will be easy to find some Khmer Apsara going on during the time of your travel. If you are feeling ambitious, you could even take a quick class and try and learn a few moves yourself.

Fun Facts About Apsara Dancers

There are around 1, 500 positions involved in Cambodian Apsara dance. Each position tends to have a particular symbolic meaning, and so the different positions can be strung together to form what might be thought of as sentences. It takes students around six years to learn all of the positions of Khmer Apsara. So you can always be sure that what you are seeing when you go to watch a performance of Apsara dance in Cambodia has been very literally years in the making.

 

Photography by Jean-François Perigeois

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