Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ynav and Bosseba

King Norodom Sihamoni thanks Sam Savin personally on stage after the performance
Talk about rubbing shoulders with the great and the good, it was more like a who's who of the Cambodian royal family, the country's elite and the higher echelons of the foreign contingent in town, from Ambassadors to Trial Judges at the ECCC. Armed with my ticket from Sam Savin, one of the principal dancers in the Cambodian royal ballet, I arrived at the Chaktomuk Theatre around 6.15pm and was shown to a seat in the middle of the theatre, about halfway back. Not bad at all. Author and activist Theary Seng plonked herself down in the next seat and we introduced ourselves. More than an hour later, with every seat in the house taken, King Norodom Sihamoni entered alongwith Princess Norodom Buppha Devi, who had choreographed the piece we were about to see, Ynav & Bosseba. Sam Savin was the first to appear on stage, as a beautiful peacock being chased by a prince and was quickly followed by a series of princesses, kings, bandits, battle scenes, unrequited love, kidnap and happy ever after in a 75 minute performance - pretty much standard fare for the fantasy that is Cambodian classical dance. Savin reappeared later as a hand maiden to the princess and Vuth Chanmoly joined the cast as Prince Choraka. The cream of the country's classical dancers took their plaudits and individual thanks from the King, who was a dancer and dance teacher himself before he ascended to the throne, and the Princess. The television cameras were there too, so I can watch it all again on Apsara tv, maybe even spot myself in a suit for the first time in 2 years.
The King, the Princess and Sam Savin (front row, 2nd left) with her royal ballet colleagues
Princess Buppha Devi and King Norodom Sihamoni give their personal thanks to the performers
The cast of Ynav & Bosseba line up on stage for a group photo with their royal patrons
A parting bow from the King amongst the cast of the royal ballet
Three of the principal dancers with a young fan. Vuth Chanmoly is far right.
Yes that's me in a suit for the 1st time since I came to Cambodia, alongside my next seat neighbour, author and activist Theary Seng, who was great company

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9 Comments:

Blogger Andy Brouwer said...

As far as I could make out, helped by subtitles in English and French, the story centers on Prince Ynav and his desire for love. Initially he was smitten with Sichakra and promised to look at no other. He then defeated the bandits that threatened the kingdom of King Kalang, who offered his daughter Princess Bosseba, as a reward. Ynav initially refused but after she was betrothed to another, Prince Choraka, he realised he was in love with the princess, who he kidnapped. The two princes fought, agreed to be friends and Ynav finally got his gal, Bosseba. There was no mention of what happened to his 1st love Sichakra!
The subtitles were a great help to understand the plot and should be used at every one of these classical dance performances. Of course, much of the dance movements by the ballet members are known only to those in the know, mere mortals like me cannot hope to understand the intricacies of what I am seeing, though having been to a few of these now, I'm picking up the odd hand gesture and sway of the hips.
Aside from an array of princes and princesses from the two royal family branches, Norodom and Sisowath, there were many ambassadors in attendance, as well as the main players at the ECCC Khmer Rouge Tribunal, movers and shakers like Theary Seng, who was sat next to me and I finally got the opportunity to say hello, as well as stars of stage and screen like Dy Saveth, Bosba Panh, etc. Not the usual circles I move in but nice to get a close look at how a gala performance in Cambodia shapes up.
Andy

October 28, 2009 at 9:05 AM  
Anonymous Kent Davis said...

Terrific article and beautiful photos, as always! No doubt you'll be wearing a suit ALL the time now that you know how good it feels? (-;

October 28, 2009 at 10:25 PM  
Blogger oasisresort said...

you look like a civil servant,get yourself back here i need to take you jungle trekking!put a good word in for me with Theary,ive always thought she is a very clever attractive women who could teach me puntuation!

October 29, 2009 at 7:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice article Andy, thanks!
Laura McGrew

October 29, 2009 at 10:45 PM  
Blogger Andy Brouwer said...

Jason,
more jungle trekking is off my agenda until I get myself considerably fitter.
and if I see Theary again, the last thing on my mind would be to mention you :-)
I mentioned your name to the owner of the Rose and she turned her nose up, which for a Cambodian is quite difficult to achieve :-)
by the way I've been recommending your place to all my friends...all 2 of them!
Andy

October 30, 2009 at 8:30 AM  
Blogger Andy Brouwer said...

The Cambodia Daily on Saturday 31st October produced a supplement in honour of HM Norodom Sihanouk, focusing on the great days of Khmer cinema. well done to the Cambodia Daily.
In it, film director Yvon Hem talked about a comedy film he made in 1968 starring actors Kong Sam Oeun and Som Van Soudavy. It was called Ynav & Bosseba, and is a story based on an Indonesian legend that was also found in Khmer legend too.
Yes, its the same story as the classical dance in honour of the King that was performed at Chaktomuk.
Andy

October 31, 2009 at 9:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Andy,
I disappeared from your blog for quite a time, after having finally realized you were beyond salvation. Definitely, a lost case - a Neanderthal as far as fahion basics are concerned.
However, it was a pleasant surprise to see you on a suit, no checkers on, just a nice plain white shirt and tie, and... shaved! - Annabelle

November 3, 2009 at 10:53 PM  
Blogger Andy Brouwer said...

Annabelle,
it was a one-off, I am still the uncouth individual you hated before. Its just that to get through the theatre door I had to pretend to be civilized. It was in the presence of the King afterall.
Andy

November 3, 2009 at 11:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Never ever hated you, dear! That sounds a bit offensive to me. I just regret that, having such a potential for elegance, you make a point in wasting it all for plain, checked sttubornness!
And, please, be good to me and take the road again ASAP! I adore when you're reporting from the countryside. What I really hate is your close monitoring of the local soccer scene and PP amenities.
Cheers,
Annabelle

November 11, 2009 at 1:36 AM  

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