musings on music, travel, books, and life from Southeast Asia

Elephant Dance

I was making my usual afternoon visit to U Tin Chit’s teashop on 90th Street in Mandalay one day recently when one of the regulars suggested that his grandson perform a sin ka (elephant dance) for me. An elephant dance? Why yes! Apparently such a dance is some sort of tradition for kids in Myanmar. I mentioned this performance to several friends later, and the typical comment was along the lines of: “Oh yes, I used to do that when I was a child too.”

Anyway, as soon as the dance idea was mentioned, out came a makeshift trunk (don’t ask me who makes these things or where they were keeping this particular appendage), some instructions from grandpa, and then the little boy started through the motions of the elephant dance, totally uninhibited. I have to say, it was amazing! The patrons of the teashop were cheering and egging the boy on, and he rose to the occasion. He was a natural. What a ham!


I have to give credit to Zin Ko (pictured below in the white shirt) who took these particular photos. He also shot a video that was equally entertaining, complete with the elephant dancer and panoramic views of the crowd (including a monk in attendance!). And let me tell you, this wasn’t a short dance. This little kid went on for the better part of five minutes, struttin’ his trunky stuff. Hilarious!

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