Cambodian lion dancers cling to craft amid COVID pandemic

Cambodian dragon and lion dancer Gnuon Virak huddles his troupe together in a circle, before they let out a team cheer and get to work rehearsing for their a Lunar New Year performance – their only one of the pandemic-stricken year.

Gnuon, 28, has loved dancing since he was a child, and grew up near a Chinese-style temple in the capital Phnom Penh. Seven years ago, he asked a master to teach him to dance and joined a troupe, known as the Bodhi Tree Troupe. Eventually he became a team leader.

“We must practice this dancing every day,” he said during a rehearsal. “This requires complete focus and motivation.”

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