Practical Information

27

Nov
2021

Theater, Music, and Dance

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The Asanas and Lakshanas The Buddha is always shown in a stylized pose, or asana, which may be reclining, sitting, stand ing, or walking. His body must always show the 32  lakshanas, physical attributes seen as outer man- ifestations of inner spirit ual power. Drawn from  the ancient Indian con cept of the Mahapurusha, or Cosmic Being, these include a wide chest and smooth golden skin (legend says the Buddha was born with limbs that shone like the sun).  For centuries, the traditional context for classical Burmese music and dance was the royal court. After the 14th-century conquest of Siam (Thailand), captured Siamese dancers and musicians brought their highly refined and stylized forms to Inwa (Ava) and Amarapura. These intermingled with local forms, originally developed in medieval Bagan from much older, Indian-influenced styles, giving rise to a unique and distinctive cultural legacy that still survives today. Folk idioms also continue to thrive, from yok thei pwe marionette theater to nat pwe dances.

Classical Dance

The Burmese classical repertoire includes several styles, among which is the popular Kinnara dance.  Inspired by the half-bird, half- human creature of Buddhist  mythology, it is typified by poses indicating flying. The dancers’ costumes imitate 19th-century Konbaung court dress.

Folk Traditions

While royal patronage developed the classical arts at court, in the towns and villages less refined folk idioms held sway.  Mythological narratives provided the sub- ject matter for all­night puppet shows. Still  popular today are a­nyeint pwe and less  restrained nat pwe, raunchy spirit posses- sion dances performed by strikingly cos- tumed transvestite oracles accompanied  by intense live music  .

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