Different Styles of Thai Dance

Thai dance

Thai dance is one of the world’s most captivating and elegant forms of entertainment. There are various styles, each with its own distinct set of movements and costumes.

Royal Classical Thai Dance was the most elaborate form, performed only at the Royal Court until the 20th century. This stunning performance features dancers wearing beautiful gold jewellery and headdresses.


Khon is an intricate form of Thai dance that has been practiced for hundreds of years. It combines music, dance, pantomime and drama into one intricate performance.

At first, khon was only performed at the royal court. But nowadays it has become an essential form of entertainment and a popular tourist attraction in Cambodia.

Ramakien, a Thai version of an Indian epic that recounts the tale of Rama and his many adventures, inspired this captivating performance with graceful dance movements, musical performances, vocal performances and shimmering costumes.

Khon was once revered as one of Thailand’s most exquisite forms of court masked dance. Nowadays it is recognized as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity and serves as a popular tourist attraction.

This dance is an intricate and specialized art, featuring elaborate costume, jewelries, masks and movements that require extensive training and dedication to master.

Khon’s body language remains the most crucial aspect of their performance. A trained audience can decipher characters’ actions by reading their gestures.

Therefore, performing well requires a lifetime of experience and training. To become adept at this art form, actors must receive instruction from an early age in the correct movements and techniques of khon (finger dance), which require flexibility, strength, and meticulous attention to detail.

A typical Khon performance involves Lord Rama and his brother Phra Lak as well as Sakot Thap (the demon who casts a sleeping spell on Rama’s army and kidnaps him) and Hanuman, Rama’s monkey warrior. Additionally, musicians playing traditional Thai instruments called piphat provide the soundtrack for this drama.

Khons come in many varieties, each with their own distinct traits. Popular types include:

Khon Luang

This ancient form of khon was performed in the royal court during Ayutthaya period, according to an inscription on a temple wall. Its influences included Grand Shadow Puppets Theatre and Chak-Naga – an ancient form of theatrical art.

Krabi-Krabong was another influential force on Khon, an art of fighting with hand weapons. These techniques can be seen in battle scenes where performers climb atop each other to demonstrate their martial prowess.

The performances are enhanced by music played on piphat, an ensemble of woodwind instruments. Additionally, they include singing and narration performed by the actors.

In a Khon play, actors must learn the gesture language of the art form so they can express their emotions through body language. Additionally, they must have the flexibility to move their arms and legs like gymnasts while performing various specialized dance sequences.

Khon drama is an integral part of Thailand’s culture and plays an essential role in conserving its art and history. Additionally, it can inspire young people to appreciate their own heritage while learning about Thai dance.