A Cambodian classical dance partially choreographed by King Norodom Sihamoni’s grandmother in 1955 will be performed tonight for the first time at Chaktomuk Conference Hall.
The premiere of “Sovannahong,” a Cambodian legend of tragic love and magic, complete with murder and a duel, will be staged by a cast of 35 dancers, 6 musicians and 4 singers from the Royal University of Fine Arts’ Secondary School.
The legend tells of a princess who falls in love with a prince only to learn that her father has chosen another for her to marry. Her maidens have the prince killed, fearing her father’s anger. The princess brings him back to life and flees, afraid of being blamed for his death.
The traditional music goes from subtle to tempestuous according to the scenes that proceed at a brisk pace during the 95-minute show. Lighting designed by the French Cultural Center amplifies the emotions on stage, ranging burnt orange to express the couple’s fiery love to soft blues to reflect the princess’ sorrow.
The dance was choreographed by Princess Norodom Buppha Devi, said Fred Frumberg, director of Amrita Performing Arts, which is producing the show with the support of the Rockefeller Foundation.
Princess Buppha Devi was asked by the NGO to choreograph a major work; she chose this legend that the late Queen Kossamak Nearireath had begun to turn into a classical dance but never finished, Frumberg said.
The dance, which is accompanied by Khmer-language lyrics, will be presented with English subtitles. The performance starts at 6 pm, and admission is free.