Angkor Wat Hosts Yet Another Cultural Event

Angkor Wat will come to life af­ter dark this weekend as the Min­istry of Culture and Fine Arts and the French government present “Nights of Angkor,” a music and dance extravaganza to be staged in front of the monument.

Tonight, 90 dancers from the Roy­al Cambodian Dance Troupe will perform Ko Samot Toek-doh, or Churning of the Sea of Milk, in which the forces of good and evil pull at each end of a naga—the mythical, many-headed serpent.

The troupe staged this fam­ous scene, which is carved on the walls of Angkor Wat, on New Year’s Eve 2000, during the festival held at the monument to mark the advent of the millennium, said Mao Keng, director of performing arts at the ministry.

On Saturday, the classical danc­ers will present episodes of the Reamke, the Khmer adaptation of the Indian epic Ramayana.

This is the third time since 2000 that the ministry and the French Cultural Center have worked to­gether to hold cultural events in December at Angkor Wat, said Marie-Christine de Navacelle, dir­ector of the French Cultural Cen­ter. Their goal is to create a tradition of “Nights of Angkor” in order to attract Cambodian and for­eign visitors to Siem Reap every Dec­ember, she said.

As last year, French artists will take part in the event. Dancers from the Ballet de Lorraine will perform excerpts from Swan Lake, Balanchine’s Sleep-walker and Schrodinger’s Cat.

This time, the French government has stepped up its involvement. In addition to the support from the French Em­bassy in Cambodia, the French Associa­tion for Artistic Action, which is part of the French Min­istry of Foreign Affairs, is contri­buting to the festival, said de Nava­celle. A French light-and-sound expert has been sent to help stage the two shows, she said. “France has decided to invest in Angkor,” which shows the country’s intention to focus its cultural support in Asia on Cam­bodia.

“Nights of Angkor” starts at 7 tonight and Saturday. Tickets are $10 for expatriates and 2,000 riel ($0.50) for Cambodians.

 

 

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