Chui Chai

        "Chui Chai" in the broad context means "Transformation" while "Chui Chai" in the traditional context means "Getting Dressed" or "Transformation from one identity to another". However, the new approach to interpreting "Chui Chai" identifies the changing process within the control of certain structure. In this new approach the sudden transformation takes place only in the appearance, not with the spirit of a person; the spirit of a person is unchangeable. For example, in Chui Chai Benyakai, Benyakai transforms herself into Sita, but only in appearance; everything else remains the same as the original Benyakai.

The distinguish features of Chui Chai

        Chui Chai is a dance piece that shows the transformation of one character into another. Chui Chai is one of the master pieces of Thai classical dance because the movements are motivated by inner feelings and emotions.

        When the movements are driven by inner emotions, they will communicate the needs more fully through body language. Movements thus motivated are not just dance poses which are meaningless and that don’t deliver anything to the audience.

        This is a very important process of dance that distinguishes this dance piece from other dance pieces, and is not created simply for beauty’s sake. It is a perfect example of a dance piece because it includes drama in the performance.

        To display excellence in the Chui Chai piece, a dancer must have expertise in two areas

  • expertise in dancing
  • expertise in controlling and developing emotion and interpreting the character being performe

        Another interesting part of Chui Chai is the language used for narrating the dance. The language used reflects delicate emotions. It is similar to poetry that conceals strong thoughts and emotions underneath normal sounding expressing. The emotions are abstract, but can affect the dancer in the performance of meaningful movements. The raw emotions are easier to emulate by movements. There are certain body postures that are symbolic of emotions such as anger, embarrassment, satisfaction, and sorrow.

The various forms of Chui Chai

 There are variations of Chui Chai in the dance context, that is Chui Chai for different characters. Based on the idea of Chui Chai as ‘getting dressed,’ most of characters have their own Chui Chai piece, for example Chui Chai Todsakarn, Chui Chai Hanow, Chui Chai Wantong, etc. However, they all have the same composition, which includes:

  1. Plang Rua (fast song)
  2. Lyric starts with the word “Chui Chai”
  3. The Chui Chai song is followed by the Mae Sri Song
  4. Plang Raew ( another specific song)
  5. Farewell part

In general, the Chui Chai piece is dominated more by music than choreography, because in Thai culture music and literature are in charge of leading the choreography for dance pieces.

To conclude, the meaning of “Chui Chai” can be described in brief as

  1. Transformation
  2. Language that shows delicate and abstract emotions
  3. A perfect dance piece which includes perfect dancing and performance composition