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Cambodian Traditional Dance

Cambodian classical dance plays a very important part in Cambodian culture. It has been associated with the Royal Court of Cambodian for over a thousand years. Recognized by it's graceful elegant gestures (kbach) and elaborate costumes, this beautiful dance form has come to embody the historical traditions and values of Khmer thoughout the world.

During the Khmer Rouge domination from 1975-1979, Cambodia's artistic and cultural heritage was nearly destroyed. For the past 3 decades, Cambodian artists have labored arduously to revitalize that heritage. Surviving members of the Royal Ballet have reassembled to teach a new generation of dancers at the Royal University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh, the capitol of Cambodia. The masters of the dance begin training children at the age of 7 or 8. Training continues for nine years with the students learning starring roles in specific dramas.

The dances are populated with princes and princesses, male and female deities, giants (often evil) and monkeys (often good). While some works are complex dance-dramas of love and war and magic, others are considered "pure" dance pieces, meant to evoke a sense of reverence without telling an explicit story. Beyond the storyline, metaphors for proper social behavior are enacted through the different characters and their relations with one another. Mythical and historical tales evoke a sense of the Khmer past, and help maintain a link to a collective history.

The dancers embody the Khmer ideals of beauty, grace, and continuity - continuity not only between the past and present, but also between the realm of gods and that of men.

"We can know through the universal language of dance when we are moved, and when the quality of a people's art has touched our common humanity. That is the case with the Khmer classical dancers. And of course, there is something hopeful here in that dance. From the very presence of past holocaust, we take some comfort in these dancers and their renewed dedication to all that is good and noble and beautiful and lasting in the culture of Cambodia. Your grace inspires us. Through you, your nation and it's traditions will live on after the barbarians of the recent past are remembered only in the nightmares of your brave people." ---Robert Dole, US Senator

Thanks to guest contributor my sister Sophak {photo above}

1 comment:

  1. The second image above, can you tell me where this comes from? I know an exact painting of this scene!


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