Friday, March 11, 2011

Riverside culture

Two of the Apsara dancers just before they go onstage
The open-air riverside stage at the rear of Chaktomuk Theatre was alive with some of Cambodia's best classical and folk dancers as the opening show by the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts drew a sizeable crowd this evening. Lasting around ninety minutes, the artists from the Ministry's Department of Performing Arts offered up a selection of high quality traditional classical dances including the Apsara, Moni Mekhala and Tep Monorom rotated alongside ethnic folk dances amongst which were the Suoy, Praying Mantis and Pailin Peacock. With a commentary in Khmer and English, the audience were initially introduced to some of the main classical movements from the four main roles, male and female, giant and monkey, which was a welcome touch. With no breeze, it was a humid time under the lights though the quality of the performances more than made up for the small discomfort. As an offering to locals and tourists alike, the first of these regular Friday night shows demonstrated some of the best of the repertoire of dances, in easily-digestible bite-sized chunks, and the organizers deserve credit for providing a demonstration of Cambodia's quintessential cultural heritage, which as been sadly missing from the city's calendar for the last few years (apart from the recent series of shows by the Children of Bassac at the national museum). I hope it turns out to be a successful experiment. The sixty artists from the department of Performing Arts, which also included musicians and singers, also deserve a pat on the back for their high level of performance too. You can get a feel for their perfect timing and poise from the photos below. Prices for the show are split; $10 for foreigners and 10,000 riels for locals.
Handmaidens in the Apsara dance show their love of the people with their flowers
Members of the folk dance team performing the Praying Mantis
Ritual performance during the classical Tep Monorom dance piece
The divine beings perform during the Tep Monorom classical dance
Two members of the dance troupe having just completed the Good Crops dance

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