The short film above shows a professional dancer from southern Thailand performing strenuous moves with powerful expression and skilled restraint.
The dance is known as Rongngeng, from the band Ussaleemala (Miracle of Friendship). Music was played from their album of the same name. The dancer is seen here rehearsing with her students in the local Santichaiprakarn park, Bangkok.
The band gave me permission to record the rehearsals for an evening performance along the mighty strip of road that is Radjadamnoen Klang Road (see link bottom) – highway to the King and home to the exhibition hall dedicated to the founding of Bangkok.
Retaining these traditional dances is essential. Its transition from an actual rite of passage to a more tourism-based dance, perhaps, loses more local esoteric costume and movements but it’s one way these remarkably talented dancers keep the culture alive. Our support cannot be underestimated.
Weekends in the local Santichaiprakarn Park continue to provide cultural insights to life in Thailand. The third dance event I have come cross while enjoying the Chao Phraya river scenery. Others below:
*Dikir Hulu / Southern Thailand
**Thai Expression in paint and dance / Bangkok, Thailand
Background to the Dance Style
Rongngeng is a folk dance from southern Thailand and has its origins in Spain and Portugal, performed as part of a boat ceremony, paying homage to seafaring ancestors, the materials used and the construction and eventual floating of the vessel. Additionally, as suggested by its rather exotic movements, the dance was performed by young males and females for choosing marriage partners.
The movements are inspired from sea creatures and gleaned from other styles, namely: Lagu Dua, Spaita, Moh Inans, Je Sulong and Ayam Dede from the Malyasian and Indonesian and aforementioned European traditions.
The dance is characterised by:
- front, side and cross-steps;
- low arm positions normally but higher positions used here too.
- open hand with fingers pointing upwards;
- hand rotation and twisting;
- hip-twisting and;
- leaning the head towards the hand
King of the Roads – Radjadamnoen Klang, Bangkok.
Sawit Pongvat: A Native Dance of Southern Thailand (Thesis).
Miracle of Friendship email:
*Recorded on a Samsung S2 mobile.
** Recorded on a Lumix DMC-FT1 Compact Camera
© Warren Field 2013
See more work from Warren:
Warren Field Photo-library: http://warrenfield.com.au/
Warren Field Photography- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Warren-Field-Photography/219194754785391
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