Apsara Dance Show
Traditional dance performances is Apsara Theatre "a class apart, set in a striking wooden pavilion finished in the style of a Wat, which plays host to one of the more renowned troupes around town. Most traditional dances performed today were developed in the 18th through 20th centuries, beginning in earnest with a mid-19th century revival championed by King Ang Duong. Subsequent Kings and other Khmer Royals also strongly supported the arts and dance, most particularly Queen Sisowath Kossamak Nearireach (former King Norodom Sihanouk's mother) in the mid-20th century, who not only fostered resurgence in the development of Khmer traditional dance, but also helped move it out of the Palace and popularize it.
Many traditional dances including most Theatrical Folk Dances were developed and refined from the 1940s-60s under the patronage of Queen Kossamak at the Conservatory of Performing Arts and the Royal University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh. Queen Kossamak trained her granddaughter Princess Bopha Devi in traditional dance from early childhood, and she went on to become the face of Khmer traditional dance in the 1950s and 60s both in Cambodia and abroad. Like so much of Cambodian art and culture, traditional dance was almost lost under the brutal repression of the Khmer Rouge in the late 1970s, only to be revived and reconstructed in the 1980s and 90s due, in large part, to the extraordinary efforts of Princess Bopha Devi. The taste of classical Khmer culture and dinner performances are now the most popular venue - most places offering buffet or set menus combined with a one-hour dance performance. Dinner ordinarily begins at 6:00 or 7:00PM and dance performances at 7:30PM or 8:30PM, consisting of 4 or 5 dances (classical and folk). Most dinner performances run including dinner and admission. Some place does not charge admission for the performance, but you are expected to order dinner.