Khmer classical dancers use stylized movements and gestures to tell a story much like a mime. Dancers do not speak or sing...
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they dance with a slight smile and are never supposed to open their mouths. Khmer classical dance can be compared to French ballet in that it requires years of practice and stretching at a young age so the limbs become very flexible. Hand gestures in Khmer classical dance are called kbach (meaning style). These hand gestures form a sort of alphabet and represent various things from nature such as fruit, flowers, and leaves. They are used in different combinations, sometimes with accompanying foot movements, to convey different thoughts and concepts. The way in which they are presented, the position of the arm, and the position of the hand relative to the arm can also affect their meaning. Besides hand gestures are gestures which are more specific to their meaning, such as that which is used to represent laughing or flying. These other gestures are performed in different manners depending on which type of character is played.
Khmer folk dances are fast-paced. The movements and gestures are not as stylized as Khmer classical dance. Folk dancers wear clothes of the people they are portraying such as Chams, hill tribes, farmers, and peasants. Some folk dances are about love, or are folktales about animals.