Khmer classical dance, the indigenous ballet-like performance art of Cambodia, is frequently called “Apsara Dance”. This appellation reflects the belief that the Khmer classical dance of today is connected by an unbroken tradition to the dance practiced in the courts of the Angkorian monarchs, which in turn drew its inspiration from the mythological court of the gods and from its celestial dancers, the Apsaras.
The tradition of dance, honed for over a millennium, was almost lost in the Cambodian genocide, when the Khmer Rouge targeted those involved in the dance and “imposed a massive cultural forgetting”. In 2003, UNESCO declared the dance a “Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Culture”, and laid plans for a regeneration of the art form.
Angkor Wat, Cambodia