At pagoda festivals that take place across Myanmar during the Dry season, there is often an exhibition match of caneball (or “chinlone“). As the players slowly circulate, artfully hitting the ball with their feet or legs (or nose, or forehead – just not one’s hand/arms), the player in the middle (the prince, or “mintha“) must remain ever alert to each motion of the caneball so as to perform elaborate tricks with it whenever the opportunity arises.
While approval of more traditional variety comes from the enthusiastic cheers and whoops of the crowd, another way of expressing one’s appreciation of a player’s skill is a “donation”. In this, a spectator approaches the stage and makes known their desire to donate to a particular player – a realtime, money-where-your-mouth-is “Like” button, if you will. One of the announcer’s assistants ensures that the money is properly attached to the player.Here, the novelty of a female chinlone player more than holding her own among a group of males is reflected in the tidy sum attached to her back.
New standards for audience participation.