Apsaras Dance Place guide


Siem Reap

Apsaras Dance

The Mysterious Apsaras Dance in Siem Reap


The legend behind the Apsaras Dance began when the Khmer Rouge's leaders were determined to completely eradicate all forms of culture and art. There was to be no dancing, religion was strictly prohibited and plenty of performers perished but the strength of spirit and passion for keeping the arts alive pulled through, resulting in the birth of the Apsara. If you're a dancer or can appreciate the graceful, meaningful movements, then Trip Guru highly recommends checking out the Asparas Dance in Siem Reap.

Apsara means “the beautiful girls,” and it was believed that they were supernatural women. Today however, men and women alike can learn this dance, rich in story and culture. The dance is around 70 minutes long and divided into six chapters, so you can fully experience the hard work and art that the dancers back then have courageously persevered, even if it meant at the expense of their own lives. Today it is a blend of traditional dance and a modern laser show, with a high-tech sound system. It's quite a marvelous sight to behold and you must not miss it.

Aside from the theatrical kind of performance, there is also a classical dance that, while less flashy than the theatrical, is still a dance of grace and elegance; every step telling a story that unfolds before your eyes. In Siem Reap, there are plenty of venues to choose from to get your dose of Apsaras Dance. Finally, travellers should be aware that visiting orphanages as tourists is strongly discouraged—there are orphanages that offer dance performances by the children. This is considered exploitation of children, so do decline.

Other places where you can experience a variety of the Apsara dance performance in Siem Reap is in the Temple Bar on Pub Street, which hosts performances from 7:30pm to 9:30pm. But one of the most impressive and completely fitting to the atmosphere of the evening is the dances that are staged by the Nginn Karet Foundation in Wat Bo, a beautiful pagoda. It was born to help people from different villages improve as well as giving them a better grasp of their own bodies, as it focuses more on classical dance.

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