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   The Dance of the Long Nails: Thailand    



Twice My passport was stamped in the gates of Thailand. The first time was a sightseeing journey to North Thailand and Laos.

The second time (October 2003) it was in search of Traditional Thai dancing, I went back to the peaceful city of Chiang Mai in North of Thailand.

I followed the footpath to the dance and found them: On a low stage, in the middle of a traditional restaurant in central department store Chiang Mai, moving with slow and fascinating steps five beautiful Traditional Thai dancers, to the elegant northern Lanna style.

Thai Dancing is poetry in motion. Classical Thai dance performances are largely based on ancient myths and religious stories. The "Fawn Thai" traditional dance was originally an art performed for the royal courts of old Siam. It consists of five classic styles: Fawn Lep (the Fingernails Dance), Fawn Marn Gumm Ber (the Butterfly Dance), Fawn Marn Mong Kol (the Happy Dance), Fawn Tian (the Candle Dance) or Fawn Ngiew (the Scarf Dance). Each region of Thailand has its own flavor of Fawn Thai, they are all accompanied by a band of traditional Thai musical instruments.
The "Fawn Lep" or Fingernail Dance usually consists of five pairs of dancers, each wearing six-inch-long brass fingernails. There are slight different dance movements according to region. The arms and head move gracefully and firmly. The elongated fingernails emphasize the classic hand movements of Thai Dance

It was Duen and Sai, two of the dancers, who happily agreed to teach me some Thai dances. Our communication was broken English, but one does not need a spoken language to dance. We started right away, and the classes continued to a ten day private workshop, adding two Thai folk dances to my repertory.




This was an excellent taste of Thailand: have a flavor of city and village sites, tasting the variety of food and unforgettable fruit shakes, watching colorful festivals and explore a feel of the tune of Thai dancing.


Next Page: Scenes from a Thai Festival


View slideshow on Thailand and Laos: The People and The Land

More about Thai Dance in click here:




More about Lanna The northern Thai culture:


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