Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Cultural high life

King Norodom Sihamoni and Princess Bopha Devi on stage with the dancers
Life has been a very football-centric in the past week, so it was good to get a bit of culture under my belt tonight. And it doesn't get much more cultural than attending a special celebration for the King's 58th birthday at Chaktomuk Theatre, for a specially-invited audience, to watch a combination of film and classical dance, gifted to King Norodom Sihamoni by his half-sister Princess Bopha Devi. My ticket came courtesy of one of the key dancers in the Royal Ballet, Sam Savin. We were honoured with the first public performance of two dances that the Princess did when she was a young girl and then when she became the Prima Ballerina, and which had only previously been seen by the royal family, as well as a 20-minute film, shot entirely at Kbal Spean and Angkor, called Dance of the Apsaras. There was also homage paid to the teachers at the royal university with a demonstration by some of the younger members of the school and their teachers, one of which was Savin. It is a duty for all dancers to pay respects to their teachers before they perform any sacred dance. Members of the royal families, the country's elite and invited foreign guests were present, all in their suits, except me and a few others. I stuck out like a sore thumb.
Sam Savin (right, brown skirt) instructs her pupil on with the correct posture
The first public performance of a dance that only Princess Bopha Devi has danced before
A scene from the film, Dance of the Apsaras, shot at Kbal Spean



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