November 18, 2017

Efforts made to preserve elephant dance troupes in Kyaukse

An elephant dance troupe participating in the elephant dance competition in Kyaukse.
An elephant dance troupe participating in the elephant dance competition in Kyaukse.

THE Ko Myay Gone Saung Shwe Sin Maung elephant dance troupe has carried out a series of free-of-charge elephant dance classes in the town of Kyaukse, Mandalay Region, in a bid to create a new generation of elephant dance professionals, it is known.
The dance classes took place at the headquarters of the aforementioned troupe between March 7-11 during the hours of 6-9pm.
“The majority of elephant dance troupes in Myanmar are situated in the town of Kyaukse. Everyone knows the dance maneouvers of Hle Kha, Kone Baung, Hsone Lay and Kim Myi Kauk Htaung are synonymous with the Kyaukse elephant dance. We will be passing these dance moves on to the next generation.” said U Soe Shwe from the aforementioned elephant dance troupe.
Cho Gyi, a repat from Singapore, and Ko Linn lead the elephant dance trainings with assistance from the Ko Myay Gone Saung Shwe Sin Maung elephant dance troupe which included the famous dance moves associated with elephant dancing from Kyauk Hsay.
“Those that attended the trainings were clever. They were so interested [in the elephant dance]. We set the days of the classes based on days which students could attend. The Mandalay elephant dance troupe has extended offers to assist with the sending of required equipment for the teaching of the elephant dance, and to provide refreshments, for the next series of classes.” added Ko Soe Shwe.
The Kyaukse elephant dance troupe has made it known that they will provide free-of-charge elephant dance classes to elephant dance troupes who were not able to make the trip to Kyaukse to attend.
Elephant dance donation ceremonies, which include the offering of alms to monks, have been traditionally held within the town of Kyaukse without fail for the last 900 years, it is known.
In a bygone era, homage used to be paid to elephant figures modelled out of sticky rice. It wasn’t until around 1925 that a man named Saya Nge, who lived in Nyaung Kyauk Pin neighbourhood of Kyaukse, created the elephant dance festival with his elephant named Nwe Hso. The festival and dance techniques have been handed down through the generations to this day ever since.

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