The ORIGIN Center in Bangkok: Live-in Traditional Thai House
The ORIGIN Bangkok arts courses are held in our unique program center in Bangkok, a live-in complex of traditional wooden Thai houses set amidst leafy grounds. Classes take place in three different areas:
Sala dance pavilion
This classically-designed open-sided wooden pavilion, like those found in palaces, theater, and noble homes, is used for Marayaat (Etiquette), and for Dance, and Music.
Ground floor space
This open-air (roofed) space on the ground floor of the main traditional Thai style house (part of the same complex) is convenient for Cooking classes.
Studio al fresco
This space on the ground floor of the traditional Thai houses, is air-ventilated and has a long work table, suitable for Flowers and Lai Thai (Thai Design).
One Day or Half Day programs
In Bangkok ORIGIN offers traditional arts programs focused on traditional arts of central Thailand. The one day program incorporates a morning Orientation, followed by classes in three arts. The core arts are Marayaat (Etiquette), and Khon (Classical Dance), followed by a choice of an additional class in Lai Thai (Thai design), Flowers, and Cooking.
The program includes fresh fruit and coffee breaks, and a buffet lunch. The ideal group size is 10 to 20 participants, but we provide special programs for larger or smaller groups.
We also offer a Half Day program, with classes in two arts. The typical Half day program would have: Orientation, Marayaat (Etiquette) or Dance, and Lai Thai (Thai design) or Flowers.
Details of the Program
Held in the garden of the Ladprao house. When the guests have arrived, fresh fruit, tea, and coffee are served. During the Orientation, we give guests an overview of the arts they are about to study and the ways they inter-relate with each other. Later, we provide more details on each of the arts in a brief talk at the beginning of each class.
Also, during the Orientation, everyone changes into Jongkrabane, the traditional lower garment used by students of traditional arts. They are flexible and cool, allowing for maximum freedom of movement and comfort during the day’s classes.
Thai Etiquette (Marayaat)
Held in the Sala dance pavilion. Etiquette introduces how to move and act within Thai society: how to wai, sit, stand, pay respect to an elder, a monk, etc., and how to give and receive things.
Classical Dance (Rum Thai)
Students practice basic hand and body poses, and learn how to distinguish the four roles of classical theater: the Hero, the Heroine, the Monkey, and the Demon.
Thai Design (Lai Thai)
Held in the air-conditioned studio. In the Lai Thai class, students learn the basics of drawing the uniquely Thai flame-like and flower design patterns one sees everywhere from temple eaves and wall paintings to the lion emblem on a bottle of Singha beer. After practicing basic patterns for a while, students then receive a brocade-bound book to draw a finished design in. First they outline the design in pencil, then trace the pattern in natural glue, and finally gently lay gold leaf over the glue, leaving a final design in gold. This is the traditional way that artisans of old created Thai designs. The students take their brocade-bound books home with them as a souvenir.
Thai Dessert Cooking (Khanom Thai)
Students learn how to cook classical Thai desserts, which symbolize the sophisticated culture of old Ayutthaya and Bangkok. This includes desserts made of sweetened egg-yolk, as well as desserts with sticky rice and coconut milk wrapped in banana leaf containers.
Thai Flower Offerings (Baisri)
Thailand has a complex and beautiful tradition of flower offerings called Baisri. You will often see Baisri at temples or in private homes. Students learn how to fold banana leaves to create these exquisite flower offerings that are uniquely Thai.
Coffee Break & Lunch
Party in Bangkok
Participants get the most out of the ORIGIN program if they have a chance to attend a Final Party. They see in action everything they’ve studied during the day: flower offerings, thai design, dance and music, and the desserts they’ve learned how to cook. The Party gives guests a unique opportunity to dine in a private home, surrounded by art works, while seeing a performance of traditional dance and music.
The party takes place at the home of ORIGIN founder Alex Kerr at his condo on Sukhumvit Soi 16. Conveniently located at the center of Bangkok (near the Skytrain and the Subway at Asoke intersection), Alex’s apartment is spacious enough to handle groups of 50 or more. The apartment contains a large collection of antique art from China and Tibet, to Vietnam and Thailand.
Welcome and Q&A
Guests arrive, and are served coffee, tea, and snacks, after which they are introduced to the apartment and the Host answers questions they might have. Sometimes the Host is Alex; if Alex is out of town, it’s another art expert who is familiar with the ORIGIN program and the Soi 16 art collection.
When Alex is available, he can give a talk on the traditions of Southeast Asian art, such as ceramics and textiles, illustrated by artefacts from Alex’s extensive collection of Chinese, Japanese, and Southeast Asian art.
After the Q&A, guests are served wine and cocktails. Then they see two classical dances performed with the accompaniment of a phi-phat orchestra.
Dinner is served buffet style, first a full dinner service (with wine and other beverages), and at the end a dessert table with coffee and tea.
The apartment is decorated with flowers arranged in both Thai-traditional and Thai-modern styles.
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