The legend of Tep Sodachan, a Hindu female deity who wishes to experience the human world, has been adapted for the first time into traditional ballet by a Cambodian cast and crew.
The performance, which will be held at Chaktomuk Theater on Friday, is being staged by the Ministry of Culture’s National Theater and the Royal University of Fine Arts.
The 40-person production is funded by the French Embassy through the French Cultural Center.
“All Cambodians will be familiar with the story, but this is the fist time it has been choreographed for ballet,” said Kor Borin, cultural specialist at the French Cultural Center.
The story is about Tep Sodachan and her six sisters, who ask their father, Hindu deity Indra, to allow them to take a walk on earth.
Indra grants their wish on the condition that they abide by five precepts of conduct that include not taking another person’s property.
But Tep Sodachan picks a gardener’s flowers, and then is stripped of her divine privileges and becomes the gardener’s wife.
Smitten with the gardener’s new wife, the gardener’s moneylender makes him a deal: The gardener’s debts will be canceled if he can disentangle a ball of silk thread and weave a piece of fabric overnight.
If he fails, he and his new wife will become the moneylender’s servants.
Tep Sodachan prays to her sisters and, with their help, is able to complete the task.
The ballet was choreographed by Somalia Soth, a RUFA choreography teacher, and her daughter, RUFA student Vuta Chanmoly.
The choreography was first created as Vuta Chanmoly’s final examination project, said Proeung Chhieng, RUFA’s dean of choreography and an advisor to the production.
“It is very difficult to create new works and we are very happy with the creation. We like to form new directors,” he said. “There are so many stories from the students.”
Proeung Chhieng said he hopes similar projects can be performed in the future.
There is only one ballet performance scheduled at the present time, but depending on its popularity, there may be more performances in the future, said Anne Leal, a communications official for the French Cultural Center. Admission is free and tickets are available at the center. (Additional reporting by Jimmy Brown)