dance cambodia

An exchange of art and culture which carries with it a message of peace and caring.

Our visit to Cambodian Living Arts

Early morning 6am at the Boddhi Tree Umma guest house writing the blog. I love the early morning when everyone is still asleep in the guest house and the staff are preparing the place for the day. In the street outside Phnom Penh is waking up.
Early morning Boddhi Tree Umma

On saturday morning we went to visit Cambodian Living Arts in Phnom Penh. THis is the organization that Arn Chorn Pond founded for the preservation of Cambodian traditional music and arts.
We were met by V2, who was to help us with the translations.
We walked up tot he top floor of their building and into a room where there was a group of about eighteen students, and a group of musicians, with the dance Master and the assistant Master.
I found out through the translator that the students were aged about 14 or 15 and some of them had been taking the classes for 7 years. They do dance classes on saturday and sunday.
They did a warm up for us which consisted of various exercises to stretch their hands and legs. And a demonstration of all the fundamental movements from the Cambodian classical dance.
They then performed about 5 different dances for us, many of which were folk dances that had a lot more energy and celebratory tone than anything we have seen so far. There was one dance done with coconut shells, and also the monkey dances that were performed by four of the men. THe monkey dance was full of fast, staccato and scratching movements, with some acrobatic cartwheels and so on.
During the demonstration the young musicians accompanied the dances, and at some point another man came in who apparently was the music Master. These young people are from the slums of Phnom Penh, and Cambodian Living Arts is giving them an opportunity to rise out of poverty through learning music and dance. They have already traveled and performed at the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland and recently in Japan.
After they had finished we did a demonstration of improvisation and tried to convey to them the premise of the work. It was difficult to get them to understand that there was no inherent meaning to any of the movements that we did, and that the viewers were free to interpret our dancing in their own way. At one point during the improvisation I did a cartwheel, and this impressed them because traditionally it is only the men that move on their hands. This led to a demonstration of hand stands, cartwheels and some lifting which they enjoyed.
This was another occasion where everyone seemed over joyed to share each others artistic expression. At the very end they sang a song for us to wish us good luck. We all joined together to sing and do a very simple Cambodian dance.We spoke about the fact that next time we visit we will do some classes together.

Cambodian Living Arts, with picture of one of the Masters who is considered to be the Ray Charles of Cambodia
Cambodian Living Arts, with picture of one of the Masters who is considered to be the Ray Charles of Cambodia

Warm up and demonstration of the traditional dance movements
Warm up and demonstration of the traditional dance movements

CLA students
CLA students

The coconut dance
The coconut dance

Coconut dance
Coconut dance

CLA students
CLA students

The Dance Master and the young musicians
The Dance Master and the young musicians

With V2 translating
With V2 translating

The music Master and the dance Master
The music Master and the dance Master

The beautiful young women students
The beautiful young women students

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