culture is rich with dance, art, and song.
The colorful costumes favored during religious
ceremonies have become legendary.
Currently, this once troubled country is open for
tourism again, allowing people to begin discovering and
rediscovering the beauty of the people, religion, and art
that is Cambodia. One
form of art that encompasses many different media and has
religious significance is Apsara.
Apsara is a dance performed by Cambodian girls and
young women to welcome the Thai gods into a temple.
The Apsara is performed for religious reasons,
honoring the Apsara, female divinities of the Khmer
of its significance, Apsara has also been represented in
carvings that adorn the walls of some of the country's
sinuous movement, as well as difficult and sometimes
seemingly impossible contortions characterize the Apsara
work for years to perfect the difficult movements.
Attending these dances, which are typically held at
temples in the evening hours, has become an event that
tourists should not miss.
Additionally, many different school programs are
aimed at teaching young girls the Apsara.
This is especially true at orphanages, since learning
the Apsara offers these poor children the chance to have a
profitable career. Because
of the many years of political instability in Cambodia,
there are many of these orphans, and caring for them has
become a worldwide cause.
However, the Apsara offers them a chance at a future
using traditional Cambodian culture.
Apsara dancers are practicing an art that has been around
for centuries. Proof of this is shown at some of Cambodia's oldest temples,
such as Angkor Wat. Angkor
Wat was built around the tenth century at the height of the
Angkor Kingdom, often being compared in scale to the
Pyramids in Egypt. The
Angkor site stretches over 120 miles and is composed of
several different buildings, moats, walls, and temples, all
built from massive stone blocks hauled to the area and
constructed completely without mortar.
Carved representations of the Apsara divinities can
be found prominently displayed on and in the famous Hindu
temple of Angkor Wat on the site, along with several other
prominent carvings. Other
examples of Apsara carvings can be found throughout
Cambodia, and dancers often perform the Apsara dance in the
presence of these ancient carvings.
recent re-opening of Cambodia to western tourists, the
Apsara dance has been exported to other Asian countries and
to North America. Cambodian
dancers have performed at several festivals and their
performances have ensured that this centuries-old dance will
survive into the future.
In addition, carvings of dancing Apsaras are becoming
popular art pieces, further benefiting a country trying to
revive its export economy after many years of political