Thursday, May 20, 2010

One big family

Two of Cambodia's very best dancers, Belle (left) and Sam Sathya (right) with one of their biggest fans savouring the moment
I thought we might be blessed with one or two of the dance stars of Cambodia at the book launch of Beyond the Apsara at Monument Books tonight, but to have so many at one gathering was simply a wonderful indictment of the book and its importance to the dance community. The book is groundbreaking as it contains 25 essays from the artists themselves as well as a series of chapters from other artists and scholars of dance. I haven't seen Sam Savin for a few months so it was great to see her before she is off to Morocco and the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music with forty members of the national dance troupe to perform in northern Africa. Belle, Sam Sathya and Chey Chankethya were there before they jet off to Hong Kong and the United States to perform in Khmeropedies and others like Sin Sakada, Sang Phorsda, Hun Pen and Yon Davy simply graced the event with their elegance and beauty. The book's editors, Fred Frumberg and Stephanie Burridge spoke eloquently, as did contributors Chankethya and Toni Shapiro-Phim before it was time for a drink and a mingle. I walked Yon Davy across Wat Botum park, where she jumped at the chance to join one of the dance exercise groups before making her way home to the White Building, famed for its artistic community and where Davy has lived all her life. It was a great turnout from the dance community reflecting the family atmosphere and supportive nature to be found amongst this fraternity.
Sam Savin popped along to the book launch ahead of her trip to Morocco to dance next week
They don't come any better than these two 'heavyweights' of Cambodian dance, contemporary's best Belle (left) and classical's best Sam Sathya
Part of the assembled throng of dancers and artists at Monument Books this evening
The other half of the assembled dance family that were there to celebrate the book launch

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Blogger Andy Brouwer said...

One incident that nearly soured the evening took place as I walked past Prime Minister Hun Sen's house next to the Independence Monument. I was talking to Yon Davy about her dance background when one of the guards sitting on a stool outside the main gate shouted something to us in Khmer. Davy shot back, also in Khmer, "don't judge me as you don't know me" or words to that effect as the guard's comments were rude and derogatory towards her because she was with a foreigner.
This is something that Khmer women endure regularly in Phnom Penh, from tuk-tuk drivers, motodops and now guards belonging to the Prime Minister. It's one of the crass attitudes adopted by Khmer men towards women, and obviously whilst not all Khmer men show this type of disrespect to females, its much more prevalent than I ever found in my own country.
I was pleased that Davy responded so quickly and correctly to the chauvinistic guard who quite frankly needs to be taken behind his guard-house and taught how to behave properly in public.

May 21, 2010 at 9:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was nice to meet you at the book launch. I will go on 'using to visit' your blog !
Thanks for introducing me to your favorite dancer.


May 25, 2010 at 4:19 PM  

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