Sunday, February 20, 2011

Khmer Arts on song

A closing scene from this afternoon's Pamina Devi performance
There was a packed auditorium for the performance of Pamina Devi at Chaktomuk Theatre this afternoon as the Khmer Arts Ensemble strutted their stuff as part of the on-going national performing arts festival being held here in Phnom Penh. Though you wouldn't know there was a festival taking place with practically zero press coverage and no indication of the schedule of shows. It was all down to the Khmer Arts company themselves that they had an audience for this rare public showing of one their trademark classical dance performances, choreographed by the company founder, Sophiline Cheam Shapiro. KA are the only private company producing this level of high quality performance, which would blow away any of the Apsara shows you might see in the hotels in Siem Reap, with its demonstration of finely-honed technique and proficient artistry. These performers know their stuff and deliver it with perfection. And it's also helpful and necessary that the founder gives a preview of the show before the dancers take the stage. If you get the chance to see the KA team in action, take it, as this is classical Cambodian dance at its finest. One disappointing element was the proliferation of flash photography during the show. Every few seconds a camera flash would pop off and some of the photographers got way too close to the stage and the performers for my liking, distracting my viewing of the performance, and demonstrating disrespect for the artists. Something the organizers need to pay more attention to in the future.
I forgot to mention the CD that was available at The Like Me's concert at Northbridge School on Saturday. It's a 7-track CD that the band have produced especially for their Cambodia tour and contains a good cross-section of their work to-date, though nowhere near all of their catalogue I might add. It kicks-off with one of my favourites, Sva Rom Monkiss. It was selling for $2 and at that price sold well at the school gig, and should be available for their remaining concerts in Siem Reap next week and in Phnom Penh at the start of next month.
The 19-strong company take their plaudits after the Pamina Devi performance
The CD cover for the The Like Me's new release, complete with band signatures

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