THEATRICAL PERFORMANCES OF THE KHMER PEOPLE: BETWEEN ROYAL ENTERTAINMENT AND RITUAL SACRIFICE
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Classical Khmer ballet (lakhon kbach boran) began at the royal court in the latter part of the first millennium (probably around 802 AD), and continues to be performed in Cambodia. The ballet is dominated by women, while men are the sole performers in another form of traditional dramatic dance, known as 'lakhon khol'. Although this masked theatre also functioned as 'royal theatre', its popular, ritual version is more widespread. 'Lakhon bassac', the newest genre of the traditional Khmer theatre in what is today Cambodia, has its origins in the early twentieth century. It is a popular form of musical drama that shows considerable Vietnamese influence. In Cambodia, two types of shadow theatres exist: 'ayang', which is a theatre of small, individual figures, whose origins probably lie with an Indonesian-Malyasian or southern Thai model, and 'sbaek thom', which uses large figures and would appear to be a type of theatre unique to Cambodia.
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