Dancers and musicians from Bhutan's Royal Academy of Performing Arts (RAPA) and the central monastic community based in Thimphu perform a range of traditional and ritual dance and music direct from the remote Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan.
Bhutan's historical evolution has resulted in cultural traditions which came to be the breeding ground for unique customs, manners, language, modes of dress, arts, and different types of dances and folk music. The cultural heritage of Bhutan has been enriched by sacred or religious masked dances, folk dances and music, and a wealth of oral traditions.
RAPA was founded in 1954 at the command of His Majesty King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck (Bhutan's Third King), and works to study, preserve, and promote Bhutan's rich performing arts traditions.
Presently, the Royal Academy of Performing Arts imparts training on masked dance, folk dance, and traditional music, both in theory and practical instruction for the artists. It participates in annual festivals and other public performances, and stages plays based on folk tales and biographical themes derived from classical Bhutanese literary texts.
The dancers from Bhutan's central monastic body perform ritual dances still practiced exclusively by monks, and are very rarely seen outside of Bhutan. This Kennedy Center performance provides a unique opportunity to closely witness authentic Bhutanese music and dance, being performed for the very first time in D.C. as part of the Smithsonian's 42nd Annual Folklife Festival.