Saturday, February 13, 2010
Belle of course and her twenty minute self-choreographed solo to Johann Sebastian Bach's Cello Suite #2 at the Chenla Theater last night was an absolute barnstormer. From the opening seven minutes which she spent on the floor before getting to her feet, she had the audience in a trance, simply wondering what she would do next. The dramatic section which saw her blindfolded and cuffed as she symbolized the plight of Cambodia's past was simply stunning in its effect. Her fluidity of movement, her timing, her concentration, her expressiveness and her stamina are all key elements of every performance, and all were much in evidence last night. The evening's show was filmed by CTN and I must get a copy of the tape. I can't believe anyone else could've pulled off such a remarkable demonstration of contemporary dance allied to music that is nearly 300 years old. The first and third Bach Suites saw dancers of the quality of Vuth Chanmoly, Mom, Yon Davy and Phon Sopheap accompany the cello playing of Vincent Courtois in the opening piece, before Chey Chankethya led her vibrant team to a crescendo of movement and sound, aided and abetted by the musicians from Phare Ponleu Selpak. Wonderful entertainment, especially as a recital of classical music would usually leave me cold. The Khmers next to me in the three quarters-full theater expressed their delight at the dance but felt slightly disconnected with what the dancers were trying to represent and perhaps that's something that needs to be addressed before contemporary dance will be fully appreciated by a Cambodian audience. They understand the stories and meanings behind their own classical form of ballet, but contemporary is so new to them that it will take time to bed in and gain acceptance. But I need a similar explanation too, so we're all in the same boat. Kudos to Amrita and the French Cultural Center for hosting the performance under the Dansez Roam! banner of events. Though a few words of English would've gone down well in the opening presentation.