Classical Dances of Myanmar
The earliest trace of Myanmar’s traditional/classical dances has been discovered at the historical sites of Pyu City in Srikshetra. Among the other excavated figures, there was one of a dancer bearing evidence to the fact that Myanmar had its early classical dance been practiced in ancient times. Dance is the most admired form of performing arts in Myanmar though the form is restricted to classical without any influence of contemporary styles.
Dance has always been an integral part of Myanmar celebrations which include weddings, shinbyu or novitiation ceremonies, beginning of battles, opening of new capitals, pagoda festivals and royal functions. The dance forms of Myanmar are graceful, refined and elaborate. Their dance forms have always upheld the cultural richness of the country.
Dance accompanied by the golden harp music is the one which used to be performed in the royal courts. They are graceful and accompanied by harp which is a popular musical instrument. The choreography portrays a pretty and young princess descending from her golden palace gracefully. The dancers form beautiful patterns with their dance movements while the musicians with the entire orchestra play the music.
The Apyodaw Dance is also known as the maids honor dance. The dancers are all female and they are accompanied by musicians. The performance is the purest form of traditional Myanmar dance usually performed by a single dancer. However, now it is performed in groups.
The Marionette dance or the dance of puppetry is a unique form of performing arts because it mingles both drama and dance together. Usually 20 strings are attached to a group of 28 puppets and the puppeteers are skilled enough to manipulate the puppets into performing human dance movements. These are mostly dance dramas where the performance is accompanied by music and a narrative. This is supposed to be the primary source of entertainment right from the time of kings to the modern times.
U Shwe Yoe and Daw Moe dance is basically a comic performance where U Shwe Yoe dances rhythmically with his moustache, umbrella at the beats of bamboo clappers, drum and cymbals to woo Daw Moe.
Stick drum dance is the one performed in groups at various festivals and charitable ceremonies. It is also performed at agricultural festivals and novitiation rites accompanied by drum music based on Moe Zar Byaw.
Yein is a dance performed at the Water Festival in Myanmar. All the dancers are female and are uniformly dressed. This is performed in groups while the hna-par-thwar is a duet performance with a male and female partner.
The Elephant Dance Festival in Kyaukse close to Mandalay requires the dancers to be in bamboo-frame and papier-manche elephant costumes. It is an amazingly creative dance form entertaining the admirers thoroughly.
Anyein is a combination of solo dancers with clown or lu-pyets. This dance form usually has the dancer appear in beautiful gorgeous costume and depicting some current events through her movements. The performance continues for 2 hours and during the break the clowns entertain the people with their antics.