Apsara is the traditional art of dancing in Cambodia, watching Apsara is one of the musts, not to say the second must which comes just after visiting Angkor Vat. This intangible UNESCO-recognized heritage is one of the most profound and aesthetic art forms in Cambodia, therefore, you probably miss a lot if you are not going to see Apsara dance while having a holiday in Cambodia.

Story of Apsara dance

Apsaras, according to the India tales, are beautiful goddesses. They are famous for their mesmerizing dance skills. With the elegant feature and sophisticated move, Apsara has gone from the tale into the spiritual and cultural life of people in those countries heavily affected by Hinduism like Thailand and Cambodia. Especially in Cambodia, in the heyday of Angkor, Apsaras was an essential art which is performed only for the Royals. Apsaras has been a main inspirational character for the decoration of the gorgeous Angkor Wat. When visiting Angkor Wat, you will be enchanted by the graceful and captive depiction of Apsaras in literally everywhere. And that is why visitors can’t help but book  Apsara shows in which they could watch these wonderful movements coming into life.

As the result of fading Angkok culture, Apsaras were almost a lost art until the recovery work of Queen Sisowath Kossamak in 2oth century. The recovery process was made according to those depictions of apsara in Angkor Wat. Therefore, the modern art of Apsara dance has been revived and immersed with the original Khmer spirit.

The slow but elegant and charming move of apsara dancers takes years of training and practices. Most of the apsara dancers started practicing this art since very young age to make the most of the childhood flexibility. Into the adolescent, they are capable to depict the intricate dance move perfectly. To prepare for an Apsara show, dances are best-clothed with traditional costumes of silk clothing and gorgeous headdresses and jewelry.

Apsara dancers in Angkor Wat

Apsara art is now not exclusive to women, it also extends to employ male dancers. However, female figures remain to be the iconic symbol of this art. Today, Apsara dance is displayed widely in Cambodia. Even being performed in the modern setting with laser or sound systems, it is still managed to retain the core and very soul of Apsara dance.

Apsara is combined with traditional tales and traditional music to make the show more interesting and culture-imbedded.

Where to see Apsara dance

It is believed that it is the best to watch Apsara performance in an ancient Khmer temple because this move will be perfectly synchronized with the living-like figure on the temple wall and the mythical atmosphere. However, it is an exclusive and rare thing that is granted only for very important figures. However, to enjoy Apsara is not anyone’s particular privilege for anyone, you can still appreciate the art of Apsara dance in many other ways.

In some of the hotels in Cambodia, especially in Siem Riep, Apsara show is available. Or you can choose to book show in some famous Apsara theater via your hotel. Here are some recommendable places where you can enjoy Apsara dance.

Angkor Village Resort Apsara Theatre

Street 60, Siem Reap, +855 (0)63 963 561

Cambodian Living Arts

The National Museum, Street 13, Phnom Penh, +855 (0) 17 998 570

Sovanna Phum Arts Association

166 St 99, Phnom Penh, +855 (0)10 337 552

Raffles Angkor

1 Vithei Charles de Gaulle, Siem Reap, +855 (0)63 963 888

The Fou-Nan

115 Group 7, Phum Tropeang Ses Khum Kochok Srok, Benoit Street, Siem Reap, 855 (0)63 762 449.


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