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Without music, song and dance
life is not
complete. Although the performing arts have
been influenced by the arts and culture of
India, China, Sri Lanka and Thailand, Burma
has preserved and developed its own culture
including traditional dance. Performed as
classic, pure entertainment and folklore
show, the best dancing show is
probably a blend between classic and
Ahak, a rather
traditional or folklore performance can be traced
back to the first Century A.D. records show
that as early as A.D.802 a "Pyu" music and
dance troupe including 35 artists and 22
musical instruments was sent on a goodwill
mission to China to present a classic performance.
After the Pyu period, Bagan
became the focus of cultural activities and
Indian, Sri Lankan, China, Pyu, Mon and
indigenous nationals cultures celebrated
classic dance during the Bagan
period from 1057 to 1287.
Stone inscriptions of
this period mention 21 musical instruments
and 64 kinds of musicians and dancers plus
the word "Ka-Chay-Tha-Bin" which means Music
and Dance Festival. King Nga Si Shin Kyawswa
of Pinya dynasty composed "Kar-Chins"
or martial songs for a shield
dance in 1336. In 1714, Minister Padetharaja wrote a play
entitled "Manikhet Zat" which initiated the
form of "Zat-Kyi" or traditional grand
drama. He also composed thirty seven "Nat"
songs. Marionette theatre and "Myay-Waing"
also emerged at about this time.
performed on a circular plot of ground
on the same
level as the audience. In 1767, King Hsinbyushin
Ayutthaya, the capital of
brought back many craftsman and artists including court dancing girls who
introduced and taught Thai movement forms. Thus
styles have been enriched by
absorbing techniques and styles from
in all forms of arts and crafts declined during
British rule. To revive and promote the performing
arts after the country regained independence, the
government opened the State School of Music and
Drama in Yangon in 1954 and the State School of Fine
Arts and Music at Mandalay, in 1955.
The present basic classic dance course known as "Ka-byar-lut,"
is performed with drum beats as the only
accompaniment. A stone figure in the Shwezigon
pagoda from the Bagan period portrays the "Ka-byar-lut"
dance style, suggesting that this basic has
been in existence for a very long time.
There are a number of popular
for state guests, visitors and the general
public at festivals or at restaurants.
One is the "Bon-she" or
long drum dance featuring two long drums, a pair of
cymbals, a bamboo clapper and a "Hne," a wind
instrument similar to an oboe. The "Ozi" or potdrum
dance includes a drummer who may carry and play from
one or many drums, two bamboo clappers, a cymbals
player, an oboe player and an "Ozi" dancer usually
garbed as a prince or a royal page boy. The "Dobat,"
or two-faced drum performance is done by two
drummers, one bamboo clapper, a cymbalist, an oboist
Myanmar dancing at a
and a dancer. This performance is always performed
in village festivities with very little music. Folk
festivals also feature "Toenaya" dance. The Toenaya
is a mythical figure made up of jute, coarse paper
and strips of bamboo. The dancer do the framework
of the gaily painted and decorated Toenaya figure
and performs the dance together with the "Dobat" or
The "Mingalar bar" dance,
a greeting dance
and traditional performance bestowing
blessings upon the audience, is a very graceful
dance on the "Nat" votaress. The "Si-mi-kwet
or oil lamp dance, features dancers carrying lighted
oil lamps on their palms paying homage and reverence
to the Buddha. The suppleness and skill enables her to move hands, feet, body and
head without upsetting the lamp or extinguishing the
flames during the performance.
Other popular are the "Tabin-Taing,"traditional solo; "Zawgyi," or alchemist; "Anyeint," a solo, artistic performed
together with story telling, humor, jokes and shows;
"Ahpyodaw," maid of honour performance; "Wun," minister;
"Ayoke," or marionette, where the actors
perform imitating the movements of puppets; the
"Nay-yar-dawkhin" or royal page boy; the "Sidaw,"
or royal drum and others. Traditional performances can be
enjoyed in several restaurants and hotels -like
Kandawgyi Palae Hotel- also as a dinner show.
orchestra, called a "Saing"
in which percussion
instruments dominate, provides the musical
accompaniment for the traditional performance. The
orchestra consists of the "Patt Waing," a circle of
21 drums in the centre, the "Kyay Maing," a circle
of gongs, a "Patt-Ma," single large drum, "Lingwin,"
cymbals, a "Hne," wind instrument similar to an
oboe, a " Palwe," bamboo flute, "Wah-Let-Khoke,"
bamboo clappers and a "Pattalar," bamboo xylophone.
Sometimes there may
also be a "Saung-Gauk," Myanmar harp, to
complete the ensemble.
Orchestra dance &