In the classical form, Thai drama and dance are totally intertwined in Thailand. Thai traditional dance is one of its most attractive rituals and traditions; see these wonderfully costumed actors patiently miming ancient stories is an unforgettable experience, beautiful and different. The performance has Indian origin, but Thai people developed them to be much more graceful and stylized.
In former days, dances were performed only in the imperial courts and noble mansions. Common people could enjoy such presentations only on celebratory occasions in the compound of a Buddhist monastery.
Today to guarantee the purity of the arts, Thai theatre and dance are protected by the royal family and enjoy an importance often reserved for more spiritual activities.
In contemporary Thai Arts there is a clear division between theatre and dance, driven by experimentation amongst, many theatres now host modern productions with larger western influence.
The most influential piece of classical literature is probably the Ramakien, based on the Ramayana of India; Thais have modified and stylized it into their own version.
Thai classical dramas include the renowned Khon (the masked drama), Lakhon (a less formal dance drama), Likay (the major popular theatre form), Fawn Thai (folk dance form), Nang Yai and Nang Talung (shadow plays), Hun (marionettes), Wai khru (performed to pay respect to the khru or teacher), Ram Muay (ritual dance performed before Muay Thai fights). Khon, Lakhon and Likay utilize dance as a storytelling medium, the differences in these arts are subtle.
Khon is the most stylized form of Thai Dance. Most Khon performances feature episodes from the ancient story of Ramakien, with masked human, monkey and demon wearing colored masks. It is performed by enthusiastic troupes of non-speaking dancers, narrative verses are sung by a chorus, although the most important male and female performers do not wear masks and occasionally speak.
Costumes are works of art and the perfect portray of the protagonistís personalities. Main characters can be recognized by the predominant colors of their costumes. The hero Phra Ram (Rama) wears green. His brother, Phra Lak (Lakshman), wears gold and Hanuman, the God-king of the apes, wears white.
For the duration of the Ayutthaya period, the Khon was performed by men playing both male and female roles, by the mid 1800ís both men and women were appearing on stage together.
Lakhon is less formal and takes its themes from a range of Thai stories, mainly from Ramakien, folk tales and Jataka stories. Lakhon dance movements are more graceful, sensual and highly stylized. Actors (excepting monkeys, ogres, and other non-human,non-celestial beings) do not wear masks and dancers are usually female. Lakhon is subdivided into numerous variations, the major three being Lakhon Chatri, Lakhon Nok, and Lakhon Nai.
Likay is much more diverse than Lakhon and Khon, the play contains elements of pantomime, comic folk opera, and social satire, stories may be original, and include singing, comedy and ham acting, dancers wear colorful blouses accessories and white socks. Likay is habitually performed at village festivals where the stories are embellished with anecdotes and references.
Muay Thai, known as Thai Boxing is, curiously, the country’s national sport, being Thailand a Buddhist country famous for its peaceful people. Also known as “The Art of the Eight Limbs” because contestants can use the hands, shins, elbows, and knees creating a devastating fighting style. Thai Boxing has proven very effective by its power, conditioning and simplicity. This sport is very hard and they burn a lot of calories. It is normal to see these boxers with a 10 percentage body fat due to this on efforts made.
Developed over 1000's of years, has origins in the antique battlefield of the Siamese army. In the second half of the 20th century Thai Boxing was exported to numerous countries, nowadays hundreds of thousands of people practice this sport all over the world. Television networks transmit fights everyday and important fights results are reported in all major newspapers.
Muay Thai is fought in a ring with gloves comparable to those used in Western boxing, separated in five three-minute rounds with two-minute breaks in between. The match is decided by a knockout or by points. During the fight, A Javanese clarinet, drums and cymbals are used to play traditional music, adding excitement to the event.
Before the fight, each contestant performs a Wai khru ram muay, it is a form of Wai Kru and is an action of respect from Thai Boxers to their teachers. The Ram Muay is done throughout a succession of gestures and movements performed in rhythm to a musical accompaniment.
Most regional capitals have boxing rings, but the most popular are Lumpini and Ratchadamnoen stadiums.
Ratchadamnoen Stadium, is the first Muay Thai stadium in Bangkok
Opening hours: Monday and Wednesday at 18:00, Thursday at 17:00 and 21.00, and Sunday at 16:00 and 20:00 hours
Address: 1 Ratchadamnoen Nok Road, 10100 Pomprap, Bangkok
Telephone: (662) 2814205
Lumpini Stadium, probably the most famous stadium, it is one of the few places in Thailand where betting is permitted
Opening hours: Tuesday and Friday at 18:00, and Saturday at 17:00 and 20.30 hours
Address: Rama IV Road, Bangkok
Telephone: (662) 252-8765, 251-4303, 253-7702, 253-7940