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|Apsara Dancer ~ Phnom Penh, Cambodia||Slide 1 of 200 | Next >> |
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
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Classical dance has played a central role in Khmer culture from its infancy. According to legend, the Khmer kingdom was founded by a prince named Kambu and Mera, an apsara and consort of the Hindu god Shiva. The word Khmer is said to be derived from the names of the kingdom's mythical founders.
Apsara is the principal dance of Cambodian ballet. Originally performed only for royalty, apsara is a stunningly graceful blend of twisting hand motions and sensuous body movements, deep with symbolism and meaning. Origins of the dance have been traced back 2,000 years, though it was during the Angkor period that the dance broke from its Hindu origins and took on a distinctly Khmer form. Estimates place some 3,000 dancers in the 12th century court of King Jayavarman VII. Following the demise of the Khmer empire in the early 15th century, the dance became dormant and remained so for centuries (though traditional Cambodian dance lived on). Today, classical apsara dance has been revived.
Depicted here is a young dancer from Apsara Arts Association. You'll see her several times throughout the show.
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