Combining the richness of Lao music with the graceful movements of dancers, Lao dance is distinctive and sets Laos apart from its neighbors. Here are the 5 most popular types of Lao dance that you may join the locals when you travel in Laos.
Lam Vong is a typical Lao traditional dance, simply refers to a dance that requires the dancers to move their arms, legs and bend their fingers to the traditional scores of Mor Lam or Luk Thung. Lam Vong is normally enjoyed at parties, family gatherings and all celebrations. Lam Vong is all about free expressions within a circle, so when you are in Luang Prabang and got invited to the stage of dance floor to join the rest in dancing the Lam Vong, please do so without any hesitation or fear!
No conversation about dance in Laos or Luang Prabang is ever complete without a mention of Lao Bamboo Dance. This art form requires the dancers to be very light and quick on their feet so they can move with the rhythm as the other two persons handling beat, tap, and slide the bamboo poles on the ground and against each other. Bamboo Dance is a popular form of Lao dance that is practiced throughout the country and is especially performed on special occasions and festivities. Some historians believe the Bamboo Dance originates from the Philippines during the Spanish colonial era called Tinikling, derived from a local bird called Tinkling.
Performed three times at the Royal Ballet Theatre in Luang Prabang, Phra-Lak Phra-Lam is an epic tale of the Buddhism. Phra-Lak Phra-Lam shares the story of Ramayana through the lives of two brothers, unsurprisingly known as Phra-Lak and Phra-Lam. Phra Lam is being associated with a previous life of Siddhartha Gautama and the plot focuses on religious knowledge, moral superiority, and finally how lives are ruined by greed and desire.
Lam Lao is a witty repertoire or exchange between a male and a female, or friends who try to outwit each other through dances and songs. Percussion, fiddles, flutes, xylophones or oboes are the usual musical instruments. Lam Lao lyrics are drawn from old poetry, classical stories from Vientiane to Luang Prabang, or interestingly improvised according to the complicated tonal rhyming patterns of the verse. The topics for witty exchange in Lam Lao are wide ranging – from topics as serious as religious sermons to sometimes-bawdy verses about love and sex.
Known as Lam Luang, stories of old are sung to the melodious accompaniment of modern or traditional music. In Lam Luong, the choice of musical instruments to be used is dependent on the songs to be sung. As in regular past times, the stories invariably involve the king probably living in the Kingdom of Luang Prabang, his queen mother, clowns, villains; and gods and evil spirits.
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