Cultural exchange strengthens bond for Australian-Thai relation
17 November 2017
To mark Australia and Thailand’s 65th anniversary of diplomatic relations, The Thai Deputy Prime Minister, H.E. General Tanasak Patimapragorn, led a troupe of 56 Thai Khon dancers to stage a “Khon” masked performance (Khon Performance) and exhibition at the Sydney Opera House on Monday 28 August. The Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in close cooperation with the Royal Thai Embassy in Canberra and the Royal Thai Consulate-General in Sydney hosted this event. There was also an exhibition of the Khon costumes that paid tribute to Her Majesty’s Queen Sirikit of Thailand’s role in the preservation and promotion of the art of “Khon”.
On 16 November, the Australian Ambassador to Thailand, H.E Paul Robilliard hosted an afternoon tea to thank Deputy Prime Minister H.E. General Tanasak Patimapragorn, Vice Minister of Culture Dr Chaweerat Kasetsoontorn and the Khon troupe for their efforts to bring the Khon performance to Australia. Four dancers from the troupe gave a short performance after members of the Australian Embassy sang the classic Australian song “Waltzing Matilda”.
The Khon Performance and exhibition received an overwhelmingly positive response, with over 1,000 in attendance. Representatives from the Australian Federal and State governments, as well as the Australian general public and Thai communities in Australia attended.
The initiative to bring Khon performance to Australia began in January 2016 when the ambassador discussed with Culture Minister Veera Rojpojanarat the possibility of the Khon performance at the Sydney Opera House. A year in planning, the Khon performance and exhibition raised public awareness of Thai national heritage.
“The Australian Government strongly believes in the value of cultural exchange as a way to strengthen the friendship and bonds between countries. The Khon Performance was truly a spectacular event that in the year Australia and Thailand commemorates 65 years of diplomatic relations showed our appreciation for our long-standing connections” said the Ambassador.
For the past decade, Thailand has been promoting the high art internationally. In 2015, Thai Khon dancers performed Ramayana at the Royal Albert Hall in London. In 2017, Thai Khon mask dancers performed at the Sydney Opera House recently performed in Russia.
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