Apsaras were fairies of cloud and water present in Cambodian folk tales, Hindu and Buddhist mythology. When they frolicked, sang and danced, vegetation and animals multiplied. Therefore, Cambodian people honored Apsaras as Prosperous Goddesses. The most beautiful farriers were Uvasi, Menaka, Ramba and Tilotama, who frequently appeared in Khmer works of poems, music and paintings. The fairies were also the owners of palaces (as they were wives of the Gandharvas, a heaven beings) and specialized in singing and dancing to serve Gods in victory feasts against ghosts and devils. There would be 26 fairies singing and dancing together on every banquet.
Relying on dancing movements of the fairies, Cambodian people created the fairy dance – Robam Tep Apsara to perform on festivals that extolled merits of Gods, Goddesses and Royalty. The dance, which has existed for many years, became the imperial dance. Then now it is into the familiar dance of belles on festivals, gauds and weddings.
Born in at least 2,000 years ago, the first images of the dance have still been seen on many decorative embossments, citadels and moats over hundreds of meters long in Cambodian ancient temples such as Complex of Angkor as well as many other religious constructions throughout the country.
|Photo by Anders Jiras|
Today, apart from dancers serving Royalty, there are 300 dancers performing in hotels, restaurants and Chaktomuk Theatre near the Imperial Palace in pulsating melodies with brilliant and graceful costumes.