Thangyat is one of the oldest examples of Burmese song culture. It is performed with a lead singer who has a dancing chorus behind him, which responds to the main singer. Thangyat can be funny and satirical, combining politics, poetry, dance and music. Traditionally, troupes of Thangyat singers celebrate the yearly Burmese water-festival with songs, chants, dances and plays. The performances were banned for decades because they often have an anti-authoritarian slant.
Thangyat groups are required to send their chants to the regional government’s Information and Public Relation Department for approval. According to government rules, chants cannot feature “one-sided accusations and criticisms that could affect the dignity of the Union of Republic of Myanmar and the government” and must not “lead to the disintegration of national solidarity.”
The student movement in Burma has been a very important political force in the most pivotal events in the country’s brutal history and young people are at the forefront again today during the current uprising against the Junta takeover. Many of the singers in the Peacock Generation have been arrested for their performances, some have also had to leave the country and go into exile.
Han Htoo Khant Paing, Nan Lin, Paing Phyo Min, Tint Tint Su, Aung Lay, Soe Htet Oo, Paing Ye Thu, Min Thu Kyaw & Zay Yar Lwin
Translation: Nilar Kyaw
Video/sound: Karl Ingar Røys
Support received from: Office for Contemporary Art Norway, The Fritt Ord Foundation Norway