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Why Royal Ballet Theatre is special ?
Founded in 2002 in cooperation with the Institute of Cultural Research, the Ballet aims to preserve this important aspect of Lao cultural heritage. Watching the spectacular performances of the Royal Ballet, including scenes from the Lao-Ramayana, Lao folk dances and tribal dances will provide a unique experience that you will never forget.
This provincial government troupe of some 60 artists was established in 1999 following a joint project between the Luang Prabang Provincial Service of Information and Culture and the Institute of Cultural Research (ICR) in Vientiane to re-establish the ancient "Lao Ramayana".
For years now, the Royal Ballet troupe performed Phra-Lak Phra-Lam, the Lao version of the sacred poem, the Ramayana, in the Royal Palace in Luang Prabang. Then in 1975, after 15 centuries of annual performances, the Theatre was banned and the master artists and teachers had to look for other work. In 1993, after an absence of more than 15 years, the Institution of Cultural Research and the Provincial Government Office in Luang Prabang established a committee to revive limited performances of Phra-Lak Phra-Lam for festivals. In 2002, the Theatre was re-established and has been performing at home and abroad since.
This show takes place in the garden of the National Museum, formerly the Royal palace.
What to explore at Royal Ballet Theatre?
At the opening ceremony, the old folks there did a little prayer then blessed the audience with some freebie bracelets and some chants.
Dancers in monkey masks sat on their haunches, scratching the backs of their necks. Tall men wearing hawk-billed masks and elaborate silk costumes glided around the stage flapping their arms. The dancers were so thoroughly in character that reality was suspended; I believed they were monkeys and giant birds of prey.
That the Phra Lak Phra Lam is even performed today is something of a miracle. Unlike the brutal repression of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, which killed thousands of monks and destroyed monasteries during their reign, the Pathet Lao communists in Laos attempted to influence Buddhist clergy to achieve political goals.
The performance had 6 different episodes of traditional Lao dance. Tickets cost 80,000Kip ($8Usd) and 100,000Kip ($10Usd). The shows were every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 6:30pm.
- “Charming theatre performance”
- “One of the best traditional shows we've seen in Indochina.”
- “Very enjoyable and entertaining, a cultural high spot”
- “A delightful escape into another world”
Sisavangvong Road, Luang Prabang, Laos
Tips for you
In a theatre within the compound of the Royal Palace Museum, you can attend this brilliant traditional art performance. It starts with a certain number of dances, followed by a multi-episode drama. It is an explosion of colourful costumes, delicate gestures, soothing music played by a band with traditional instruments, lasting over 2 hours. The theatrical drama is without words, but you can very well follow the performance with the actors’ gestures and body expression, a story of prince, princess, good spirit and bad spirit. At the end, the entire theatre company comes on stage for a beautiful pose, allowing everybody to take all the pictures we want. So please, don’t do the nonsense of certain tourists who watched the entire show through their camera while filming it on video! This performance is presented at 18:00, only on certain days of the week. We bought tickets for large armchairs among the front rows, costing 250000 Kip (32USD), worth every penny. Cheaper classes of seats are available. The only weakness is the lack of air conditioning inside the theatre.