As with many of the arts featured in Season ofCambodia, traditional Cambodian dance was preserved by the masters who were part of a thriving cultural scene in the 1950s and ‘60s and, unlike so many of their peers, survived the Khmer Rouge. One such person was Her Royal Highness Princess Norodom Buppha Devi, the prima ballerina of the Royal Cambodian Ballet during a bold era of Cambodian arts brought about by her father, the late King Norodom Sihanouk, who died last year at the age of 80. Thanks in part to HRH Princess Norodom Buppha Devi, the other choreographers and dancers taking part in Season of Cambodia have been able to build on tradition and restore Cambodian dance to its rightful place on the world stage. Having learned from the masters, who have helped preserve Classical Khmer Dance and its 4,500 moves and gestures, which have been passed down orally over centuries, Cambodia’s leading dancers are now experimenting with influences from their peers around the world. Choreographer Sophiline Cheam Shapiro, the founder of Khmer Arts, has infused classical form with new ideas and energy, using the traditional gestures and movements to tell stories that speak to the experience of Cambodians today. The dancers of Amrita Performing Arts have embraced contemporary modes, creating stunning new expressions of Cambodian identity that remain rooted in their classical heritage. From classical to contemporary, daring new expressions of Cambodian dance have preserved the greatness of its traditions. It is because their training is firmly rooted in tradition that Cambodian dancers are able to bring a unique voice to the global dialogue about how bodies in movement can express emotion and identity. 

 

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