Luang Prabang: A Royal Ballet Performance    

Luang Prabang is the home of the Lao Royal Ballet. The theatre was more like an auditorium but the dances were very good and the music and singing was live – spike fiddle, wood and metal xylophones and drums. The show started with a baci ceremony sung by a group of older people in traditional clothing. There was a flower offering with food, candles, and rods with strings. After they chanted, they took the strings from the rods and tied them on the wrists of audience members as a blessing for prosperity and good fortune.

Lao musical instruments

Baci ceremony
The dance style is similar to Thai and Burmese (as far as I can tell) with graceful precise hand movements done in a slow flexible manner so the hands seem like separate entities from the body. The women did the “Well wishing” dance. Then the show continued with an episode form the Ramayana. “Mt. Meru and Phra in residence” is about a giant who is so struck by the beauty of the mountain, he starts offering praise. A gecko on the mountain thinks he is talking to him and interrupts his prayers. The lizard was a puppet and we had to laugh at his loud, “Ah O!” sound which is a sound we often hear from the geckos here. (It is actually the mating call of the male gecko) It is so loud we first thought it was some kind of bird. The giant stomped and had heavy foot movements with flexed feet and turned out knees.

Royal Ballet masks
This dance was followed by the Dance of the Monkeys. Humorous in its stylized monkey movements-- scratching, grabbing at things, etc. The dances seem very character oriented with giants doing different heavier moves than the sage.

Monkeys and other dancers
The performance reminded me how much I like Thai/Lao/ and Burmese (I'm guessing) culture: The rich “palace” culture aspect, the emphasis on beauty and style. I wonder how the style of dance differs between these countries.

I should mention it was not a good morning. Our hotel is next door to someone who has about 10 roosters-- all of whom woke up and started crowing around 4 AM. Eventually we gave up sleeping and got up to look for a new hotel. We gave up and decided to try a different room-- probably won't help though. The smoke is still bad though we did get a little rain.

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