Shwe Mann Thabin Dance Theatre 

PUSAKA is proud to present, as part of DiverseCity 2015: Kuala Lumpur International Arts Festival, the first ever performance in Malaysia by legendary Burmese dance theatre company, Shwe Mann Thabin, featuring 25 of Myanmar’s greatest living dancers and musicians. Renowned dance master, Shwe Mann U Win Maung, is flying in to Kuala Lumpur all the way from New York City to perform zat-pwe, a stylized dance theatre rarely seen outside its native land.

Zat-pwe is deeply rooted in the traditions of the country – Myanmar’s monarchical past has imbued the zat-pwe with glorious music and songs as well as court dramas of great poetic beauty. Many zats (stories or plots) are drawn from ancient Buddhist scriptures, but there is also a highly improvisational aspect to zat-pwe. Dancers perform intricate and highly energetic sequences characterised by quick, agile movements and dramatic, angular poses. Burmese dance draws inspiration from a range of creative sources, from marionettes, to the spirit realm, to birds in flight. Alongside the zat-pwe, Shwe Mann Thabin will also perform excerpts of the Burmese dance version of the Ramayana.

Shwe Mann Thabin Dance Theatre Company was founded 80 years ago by U Shwe Mann Tin Maung, the most distinguished and popular performer of the zat-pwe. He was the first and only performer awarded with the “A Lin Gar Kyaw Swa” award for being the most talented performer for the theatre arts. He passed on his tremendous skills, knowledge and talents to his five sons, including U Win Maung and U Chan Thar, who inherited the troupe after his death. U Win Maung now resides in New York City, where he teaches and performs Burmese dance, while U Chan Thar continues to perform throughout Myanmar.

The third generation of Shwe Mann is “Tin Maung San Min Win”, the nephew of U Win Maung and U Chan Thar. This young artist began his career at the age of 15 and has won the National Cultural Dance competition in Myanmar, after receiving top awards in every division he participated in. Tin Maung San Min Win often performs with U Chan Thar at zat pwe performances, and is also grooming the next generation of exciting young dancers in Myanmar.

In 2003 and 2015, Shwe Mann Thabin performed to great acclaim at New York’s Asia Society. In April 2015, they also performed at The Institute of Sacred Music at Yale University.