Behind the Thai mask | Bangkok Post: lifestyle

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Behind the Thai mask

Canadian Benjamin Tardif has beenstudying the traditional Thai dance of khon for years and plans to share what he has learned with other foreigners

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Three men wearing white shirts and red jongkraben (traditional Thai trousers) are practising their khon dance performance in a classroom. From afar they look like your typical Thai masked dance experts, as their posture and movements are smooth and delicate. On closer inspection, however, you may notice something, or someone, out of place, at least according to popular perception. One of the dancers is 30-year-old Canadian Benjamin Tardif. 

Tardif is studying at Bunditpatanasilpa Institute for a master's degree in the teaching of Thai performing arts. His passion for traditional Thai dance began when, as part of a cultural exchange programme in 2002, he studied at Sukhothai Witthayakhom school in Sukhothai.

"When I watched khon for the first time, I was bedazzled because I had never seen such a performance before, but I didn't know and understand what it was," he recalled.

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