Thai Classical Dance Drama

Outside the religious context, Thailand has a long tradition of performing arts. Puppet and shadow theatre can occasionally be seen, but it is classical dance which is best preserved.

The two major forms of Thai classical dance drama are khon and lakon nai. Both were originally exclusively court entertainments and it was not until much later that a popular style of dance theatre, likay, evolved as a diversion for the common folk.

To draw parallels with Western dance and drama, likay is the equivalent of pantomime, whereas khon and lakon nai are like ballet, clasical and highly stylized.

The visitor can mostly easily see classical dance at one of the several dinner-shows staged at various Bangkok restaurants, although it should be remembered that these programmes mix the classical with the folk and present perhaps a ten-minute excerpt of khon or lakon nai.

More traditional performances are staged at Bangkok's National Theatre. Likay shows are most likely to be seen at temple fairs and at upcoming festivals.

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