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Thailand's vibrant history of dance

Have you ever been so overcome with emotion that you had no other way to express it other than dance? Sometimes, you're faced with an experience so touching that words just aren't enough - but dancing is, so you bust a move.


When you visit Thailand, you will likely experience this exact sequence of events. In fact, this is how many in the country feel as well - and why dance is deeply embedded in the history and culture of Thailand. As such, catching a performance needs to be something you do on your trip.

There are two major types of traditional dance in Thailand: classical and folk. Both are known for their beauty and grace - much like the country itself. Let's learn a little more about them.

Classical Thai dance

There are three major forms of classical Thai dance. The first is Khon. In this performance, dancers dress in elaborate, colourful costumes that mimic characters in a story which is being told by an announcer or sung by a choir, and is very emotional.

Next up we have the Lakhon dance. It's similar to Khon, but these dancers move as a group and it's much less formal as it focuses more on folk stories. Finally, there is the Fawn dance. This is a hybrid of classical and folk dances, though it is more well known as a point of entertainment for tourists. The most famous of these dances is the fingernail dance which features performers with long, gold fingernails.

Folk Thai dance 

Folk Thai dance - aka rabam phun muang - extends back to the tribal cultures as well as influence from Burmese and Indonesian colonies. The stories of these performances are based on the local traditions, as well as everyday activities like fishing. The different regions of the country all have their own signature touches to the dances. For example, the north has more elegance and grace to their movements, whereas the south goes about dance with a sense of humour. You can experience these in their best versions by visiting local festivals around the country.

Make sure you've packed your dancing shoes before your trip to Thailand - you're going to need them. Whether you're going to a professional show, taking a lesson yourself, or just going for a hike that ends with an amazing view of the beautiful countryside, you'll undoubtedly be inspired to dance. But don't worry, you're not expected to look nearly as graceful as professional dancers - an interpretive dance will do just as well!