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Title: Tradition and transformation of Thai classical dance : nation, (re)invention, and pedagogy
Author: Boonserm, Pawinee
ISNI:       0000 0004 6346 9922
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2016
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This research aims to analyse the role and consequence of state patronage and promotion of Thai classical dance after the revolution of 1932, when the patronage of court dance changed from royal to state support. This research examines connections between the authority of the state, nationalism, Thai identity, and the invention of tradition, by focussing on the reconstruction of Thai classical dance, the promotion of spirituality in the Wai Khru ceremony, and dance pedagogy. This study uses historical research and ethnography through participant-observation, and interviews with senior dance teachers, national artists, masters of the Wai Khru ceremony, and dance artists in the Fine Arts Department, and also draws on the researcher’s personal experience in dance training as a dancer and dance teacher for several years. The thesis offers a detailed analysis of the socio-political context and cultural policy in relation to the establishment of the Fine Arts Department and the Dramatic Arts College; the national institutions whose main roles were to preserve, perform and offer training in traditional dance. After the revolution of 1932, the Fine Arts department played an important role to authorise, preserve, and standardise Thai classical dance. The function and meaning-making processes surrounding dance changed in accordance with the development of Thai identity and cultural policy. During the period 1932-1945, state policy emphasised the homogeneity of ‘Thai-ness’ and civilization, and traditional dance was adapted and combined with classical, folk and western elements. However, after the mid-1940s, the socio-political and cultural policies changed; the state operated the project of cultural revivalism. The court dance style and its rituals were revived with the establishment of a code of ‘classicalism’ which became the central aesthetic identification of Thai identity. The newly-coined classicalism has become the standard, and has been passed on to succeeding generations in the new educational system. These new invented traditions were preserved as if they were sacred, a practice which continues to the present.
Supervisor: Milling, Jane Jr Sponsor: Thammasat University
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Thai classical dance ; tradition and transformation