Date Traveled, Auguest 2012
The Apsara dance is a traditional Cambodian dance form that gets its name from the celestial nymphs or Apsaras from myth that are found in carvings of Angkor temple walls.
Many places around Siem Reap offer a combination of a dinner and dance package most evenings. It is a nice break to take and experience something different after a day of temple explorations. The dance show I went to was at the Angkor Village hotel's Apsara theater. The indoor theater is wood paneled and overall had great decor. There are long tables for seating. It may look like you are going to be seated at a traditional table where you sit on the floor but there is actually a long depression under each table for your legs so you deceptively cheat on that :-)
The musical score and the orchestra are played by a live troupe. The music is similar to other Southeast Asian musical forms if you have heard them. If you like that form you will enjoy it and worth listening to if you haven't heard it before.
The food was unfortunately an all round disaster. It was in parts too oily or tasteless or bad tasting or just plain inedible in the case of the dessert.
The little theater was nice
The food was awful
Fortunately the classical dances were excellent. They played a traditional Apsara dance with its emphasis on slow and graceful hand movements and finished off with several chapters from the Ramayana epic. But again unfortunately they had a mix of classical and local Cambodian village folk dances, the folk dances were unfortunately sub par compared to the classical dances and certain parts were yawn inducing.
The Apsara Dance
Scenes from the Ramayana
The whole show lasted 90 minutes. I would love to see more Apsara dances when I return to Cambodia but I think I will probably give some other show a shot next time.