Dance in Thailand

Thai dancers

Life in Thailand

Dance in Thailand (Thai: รำไทย ram Thai) is the main dramatic art form of Thailand. Thai dance, like many forms of traditional Asian dance, can be divided into two major categories that correspond roughly to the high art (classical dance) and low art (folk dance) distinction.


Although the traditional Thai performing arts are not as vibrant as they once were, suffering inroads from Western entertainment and generally changing tastes, Thai dance drama is not extinct. What survives displays the elegance of an art form refined over centuries and supported by regal patronage.

Aside from folk and regional dances (southern Thailand's Indian-influenced manohra dance, for example), the two major forms of Thai classical dance drama are khon and lakon nai. In the beginning both were exclusively court entertainments and it was not until much later that a popular style of dance theater, likay, evolved as a diversion for the common folk who had no access to royal performances.

Classical dance drama

Khon performance in 2007 in Germany.

Thai classical dance drama include Khon, Lakhon, and Fawn Thai.


Main article: Khon


Main articles: Lakhon nai, Lakhon chatri, and Lakhon nok

Fawn Thai

Thai dance, 1965

Folk dance

Folk dance forms include dance theatre forms like Likay, numerous regional dances ("ram"), the ritual dance Ram Muay, and homage to the teacher, Wai Khru. Both Ram Muay and Wai Khru take place before all traditional Muay Thai matches. The Wai is also an annual ceremony performed by Thai classical dance groups to honor their artistic ancestors.

Regional dances



Dancers at a Yasothon festival


A dancer in Chiang Mai
Thai dancers in Laplae


Regional dance styles

Many folk songs in Thai dance have story about the history of Thai dance.

See also


  1. "A Thai Archaeological Dance". The World In Paper View. 28 January 2015.
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