Acclaimed Dancers Headline Eighth Annual Nuits d’Angkor

Two Cambodian ballet premieres; one Cambodian dance praised internationally; the contemporary work of a world-re­nowned choreographer; and a mu­sic and dance show by an award-winning Malaysian company.

This is what the French Cul­tural Center will be offering during the eighth annual Nuits d’Ang­kor festival held from Jan 31 through Feb 2.

Organized in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture under the patronage of King Norodom Si­hamoni, the Nuits d’Angkor will take place along Angkor Wat’s facade.

The event will start Jan 31 with “Down by the River” performed by France’s Centre choreographique National Roubaix Nord-Pas de Calais. The contemporary dance was choreographed by Carolyn Carlson, a US-born dancer who was named to France’s prestigious “Legion d’honneur” in 2000 and became the first dancer to receive the Gol­den Lion Award at Italy’s Venice Biennale art festival in 2006.

After her work, the Culture Min­istry’s dancers will present Preah Chenvong. This legend of a prince whose sword is stolen by a white monkey and ends up in the hands of a giant was created in the 1960s by the King’s grandmother, Queen Sisowath Kossa­mak, said Na­tional Theater chor­e­ographer Pen Sok Huon, who has adapted a 45-mi­nute excerpt of the ballet for the event.

On Feb 1, Carlson’s dance will be performed again and followed by Cambodian choreographer Soph­iline Cheam Shapiro’s “Sea­sons of Migration,” staged by Shapiro’s Khmer Arts Academy’s company. The ballet speaks of the difficulties immigrants face in their country of adoption. Crea­ted in 2004, this classical ballet premiered that year in Cambodia and has since toured the US and been featured in Malaysia and Japan.

On Feb 2, Inner Space Perfor­ming Arts—a group of musicians and dancers described as “multiple award-winning wunderkinds” in their home country, Malay­sia—will present “Kathak Ex­treme,” applying an exuberant ap­proach to classical dance forms from North India. The Ministry of Cul­ture will afterwards stage Tep Sodachan, the tale of a deity forced to spend time as a human and help a poor man es­cape servitude. Choreographer Soth So­maly of the Royal Univer­sity of Fine Arts said that she and RU­FA’s teachers have turned an ex­­cerpt of the 1960s ballet into a new classical work.

Since the first Nuits d’Ang­kor—held on the night of Dec 31, 1999, to welcome the millennium—the festival has taken place in Decem­ber. For its 2007 edition however, the French Cultural Center has had to reschedule due to the light-and-sound cultural show that a Thai in­ter­est organized from Nov 24 through Jan 20 in cooperation with the Cul­ture and Tourism ministries.

Asked whether the change of month and light-and-sound show may affect Nuits d’Angkor attendance, center Director Alain Arn­au­det said Thursday that, since the dances have “all the rigor and beauty of pure creation,” the Nu­its d’Angkor should stand the competition.

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