Dance and Theater

Lao music and dance have much in common with those of Thailand. Popular instruments include bamboo flutes, drums, gongs, cymbals and pinched or bowed string instruments shaped like banjos. The national instrument is the kaen, a hand-held pipe organ. It is made from bamboo and is similar in appearance to the South American panpipes.

Apart from the classical theatre, there is the traditional folk theatre. It is called moo lam and might be best compared with the European tradition of roving minstrels. Moo lam is a very special Lao form of theatre and it has survived all kinds of censorship without change. Classical Lao theatre and dance have Indian origins and were probably imported from the Cambodian royal courts in the 14th century. Thai influence has also crept in over the years.

The national folk dance is the lamvong Lao, a circle dance in which people dance in a big circle, the men on one side facing the women, so that in fact two circles within each other exist.