Royal Ballet of Cambodia. A Comeback
With MAADS # LivingCambodia
15 December 2017
After a magnificent show in Hong Kong and before touring Europe next spring, the dancers at the core of khmer cultural heritage are gracing the Phnom Penh scene in January with three performances open to the public.
Sleeping beauty has arisen. Aptly titled Memories in Motion, the program for the Royal Ballet new season reflects a constant and subtle endeavor to bring the ancestral traditions of court theatre closer to Cambodia’s younger generations, and to art lovers worldwide. This is the result of years of dedication to the rejuvenation of ancient choreographies by Princess Norodom Buppha Devi, direct depositary of her grandmother’s artistic legacy, Queen Sisowath Kossamak, who conceived what has come to be known as “Apsara Dance”.
It seems that stars have aligned for this new life of a corps de ballet that King Sisowath took to France in 1906 (performances and costumes in which Princess Buppha Devi finds inspiration to that day), was decimated and dispersed during the Khmer Rouge terror, then re-established in modern Cambodia as a symbol of the national culture. First, King Sihamoni, a former ballet teacher himself, has a keen interest in the Royal Ballet: “He never interferes in the Princess’ work but he likes to attend the rehearsals whenever his schedule allows it”, explains Suppya Helene Nut, a leading expert in Khmer performing arts history, to Latitudes. Then, Cambodian authorities have noticed the public interest in this highest expression of the nation ́s artistic soul.
“Before 2016, we presented just two performances each year: one for the King’s birthday and one for the King’s coronation anniversary, by invitation only”, says Prince Sisowath Tesso, private assistant to Princess Buppha Devi; “from now on, Royal Ballet performances will be much more present in the public life”.
And that is why collaboration with international institutions like UNESCO (which inscribed the ballet as a “Masterpiece in the Oral and Intangible Humanity Heritage” in 2003), as well as independent and international performance producers, has considerably developed lately.
To purchase online tickets for the January 12 and 13 January performances in Phnom Penh, go to www.last2ticket.asia.
>> For an in-depth report on the Royal Ballet ́s latest performance abroad, read The Phnom Penh Post feature