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Cultural Traces Around the World

The Sublime Beauty of Traditional Thai Dance

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Located in Southeast Asia, the Kingdom of Thailand, formerly known as Siam, is a country steeped in rich cultural traditions. The name “Thailand” means “land of the free.” In this auspicious nation, one of the earliest signs of human existence was found. Through the centuries, the influence of neighboring countries such as India, China, and Cambodia have helped shape Thailand’s diverse and colorful culture. Our program today will focus on their beautiful and iconic traditional dance. Known for its elegance, bright glittering costumes, graceful movements, and melodious musical accompaniments, this cherished art form mesmerizes people around the world. For nearly a thousand years, the Thai people have developed numerous dance styles. Thai dance has two main categories, classical and folk. Today, the popular Thai classical dance styles include Khon, Lakhon, and Hun Lakhon Lek. Among the different folk dance styles, the Fawn and Menora dances are the most popular today. Khon is a valuable part of the heritage and wisdom of the Thai people. In 2018, the classical Khon Masked Dance Drama was added to the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. Regardless of the style, the basic movements and steps of Thai traditional dances are generally elegant and slow-paced, expressing humble and peaceful feelings. Hand movements are important elements in both Thai classical and folk dance. In folk dance performances such as Fawn and Menora, female dancers wear long artificial fingernails to enhance the gracefulness of their hand movements. Costumes Costumes play an important role in Thai dance. In classical dance, the costumes are mainly gold, or other bright colors, with glittering decorations or embroidered flowers. Through royal patronage, the efforts of traditional artists, and greater exposure to foreign tourists, the vibrance of Thai traditional dance was restored for the world. More than just an art form, this traditional dance is a symbol of Thailand itself.
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