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Yike (Khmer: យីកេ, pronounced [ˈjiːkeː]) is a genre of dance drama from Cambodia. It's origin can be traced to Jikey, a popular form of entertainment in the Malay culture which spread to Cambodia, probably through Thailand's Likay. Yike is performed in nearly every province of Cambodia and by the Khmer Krom communities in southern Vietnam. The Khmer Krom have two terms for it, the yike as the rest of Khmer communities, and the yuke which is used to refer to the dance theatre also known as Lakhon Bassac. In Thailand, there is an analogous theatre called Likay (Thai: ลิเก) although it is vastly different in performance and with the music using a piphat ensemble instead of the rebana (or skor yike) and tro ensemble as in the Cambodian version.
Performances of the yike are often commenced with a dance performance called robam yike hom rong which is used for invocation. For the bulk of the performance however, a dancing style similar to rom kbach is lightly incorporated.
The stories are often of various Jatakas or tales of the Buddha's life. Performances of the story of Tum Teav in the yike are also common. It is performed in a circle so viewers could see it from every angle. The performances gained popularity with Cambodian farmers, thus it have changed over time into a theatrical art form to promote the teachings of Buddhism and Brahmanism.
In the Yike drama, the skor mei (a type of yike drum) starts and ends the music. There may be from 2 to 13 drums. The largest skor mei drum begins, all perform, and then the instruments fall away until only the skor mei is still playing.
- Abstract: Part 1: The Khmers and Cham, Historical Background and Main Artistic and Cultural Characteristics, Institute of Khmer Traditional Textile
- The Sounds of Struggle - Relocation Efforts Threaten a Community of Artists, Cambodia Daily, February 26–27, 2005
There are 13 different skor yikei, from large to small. The biggest one is called skor mei- this is always the first drum to start. The theatre leader always beats skor mei (meaning "leading drum") to order, or to stop the activity of the performers.