Traditional King Ka-La Dance is performed during the Umbrella Festival in Bo Sang Village in northern Thailand

Decked out in spectacular fan-shaped costumes, a troupe of Thai dancers at the Bo Sang Umbrella Festival performed the traditional King Ka-La folk dance. Their mincing steps and fluttering arms so perfectly mimicked the movements of birds that I seriously thought they might take flight.

Traditional dance is an important cultural art form in Thailand, especially in the north, seat of the historic Lanna Kingdom that preceded present-day Thailand. No festival or important event is considered complete without such dances, which feature colorful attire and are accompanied by music from folk instruments. While there are many variations of these regional dances, most feature graceful flowing movements such as those seen in the King Ka-La dance.