Cutline, Cambodian woman performing

More than 200 circus artists from seven countries mixing dance and acrobatics, illusion and magic tricks over seven days of performances-this is what the International Circus Week Tini Tinou-which starts today-has in store.

Held for the second time in Battambang town, the festival includes artists from Australia, Burma, France, Japan, Laos and Singapore, as well as Cambodian artists from the National Circus School at the Royal University of Fine Arts and from the NGO Phare Ponleu Selpak’s circus school.

International circus week will conclude on Friday with all the artists performing together in a show they will have rehearsed during the week.

As last year, the festival takes place on the grounds of Phare Ponleu Selpak, located off National Road 5 on the outskirts of Battambang town.

The event is being organized by Phare while the French Cultural Center, which has held the festival each year since its launch in 2004, is providing partial funding and technical support, said Kor Borin, who is in charge of cultural services and communication at the CCF in Phnom Penh.

Last year’s festival was held in October and, fearing end-of-season rain, Tini Tinou’s organizers had used one indoor location in Battambang town as well as Phare’s big top, Kor Borin said. But the two locations could only accommodate a total of 1,700 people and on the last three days of performances, visitors had to be turned away, he said.

This prompted organizers to hold this year’s festival in the dry season so it could be held outdoors, allowing more spectators to attend, he said.

A larger number of artists are also expected-more than 200 compared to last year’s 150, said Khuon Det, the NGO’s president and circus school director.

Performances, which are expected to attract 1,000 to 3,000 people daily, are taking place on three stages.

Admission is free, Khuon Det said. “We want our Cambodian people to watch our Cambodian artists perform with artists from other countries so they can witness how circus arts are developing in the country,” he said.

The artists from France, Burma and Laos and some of the Cambodians are professionals, while the others are from circus schools, said Jean-Christophe Sidoit, a French circus and theatre professional who serves as advisor to Phare.

In-between performances, they will all take part in circus workshops, he said. “What is interesting to us is that the festival becomes a place for artists to share,” Sidoit said. “Cambodian artists need to come out of their usual context and feed their imagination.”

In 2006, the festival’s performances were broadcast on Apsara Television. Organizers, who hoped to have the festival televised again this year, have been negotiating with a television station, but as of Wednesday no decision had been reached.

Phare’s professional circus artists are heading for Japan where they will perform in August. They returned from their fifth European tour in February.


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