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Monday, March 09, 2009


Dance performance

When I lived in Mahasarakham, back six years ago, I remember I had to go to the dance department of the university to meet one of the dance teachers who also helped teach the English students drama. When I got there he had a class and I was invited to sit and chat with him while his students practised their dance movements. 

Students at Thai universities wear uniforms. Mostly they are plain black and white. Some departments have their own uniforms. These dance students were wearing theirs which included a sarong that somehow wrapped back between their legs and connected again at waist level at the back turning the sarong into a baggy pair of pants. That's what these students were wearing on the day I visited. I felt I was very lucky to be able to sit and watch them practise. It was like I was getting my own performance and it was very beautiful to see.

During that year I had many opportunities to see the dance students perform, not in the uniform but in beautiful traditional costumes. One night I was asked to be MC for a night of performances of traditional Thai dance and music that was presented for visiting palaeontologists. I've always enjoyed these performances. It's part of what makes it special for me to live in Mahasarakham.

On Friday night I was wandering around the night market when I noticed some students in the baggy sarong uniform. I knew they must be from the dance department. Later I could hear some announcements being broadcast from the amphitheatre which is right next to the night market. I went to look. In fact, there's been something happening there almost every night of the past week. It's getting close to the end of the semester and I guess the various departments have special presentations to make. This looked like it might be a performance of those dance students I'd just seen. I decided to wait and see and it was.

First there were some group performances like the one you see in the photo above. This was followed by solos from each of the students. Perhaps they were being assessed. I'm not sure but I got to sit in on some wonderful performances and had a delightful evening.

My only regret was that I only had my little camera with me. It's OK for day-to-day shots but doesn't handle the night-time action shots so well. Still I got one or two half-reasonable shots that show some of the intricate and often colourful costumes. You can see them by following the link to my photo page on the sidebar. To see the pictures larger click on them. If you are visiting this page some time after I post it you might find I've added many new photos. You can go straight to the dance photos by clicking this link and then clicking through the photostream by clicking the thumbnails of the photos both before and after the one that opens. Enjoy.

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