Museum Founder’s Book on Cambodian Dance Reprinted

In 1887, he was the first child of French parents to be born in Cambodia.

He went on to create the Na­tional Museum in 1920 and an art school that became the Royal Uni­versity of Fine Arts. He died in the country in 1945.

On the 124th anniversary of his birth yesterday, the French Em­bassy and the National Museum held a ceremony to honor George Groslier and mark the first reprint of his 1913 book on Cambodian classical dance.

Released by the US publishing house DatASIA, the book entitled “Cambodian Dancers, Ancient and Modern” is being launched this morning at Monument Books.

During yesterday’s event, which was attended by Princess Buppha Devi, who wrote the book’s preface, 26 dancers aged 12 to 16 years old, dressed in white, performed in the museum’s interior courtyard a classical dance inspired by Khmer dance rituals. They were students from a dance school under the princess’ patronage in Siem Reap province.

As Princess Buppha Devi writes in her preface, “George Groslier be­­came the first Western scholar to document Cambodia’s dance tradition.”

By marking the reprint of his book, French Ambassador Chris­tian Connan said Friday, the em­bassy meant to pay homage to this great scholar, whose work has ex­emplified the friendship between France and Cambodia.

Mr Groslier deeply cared about Cambodians and the country’s tra­ditional arts, which he was de­termined to help preserve, said Kent Davis of DatASIA.

Moreover, Mr Groslier believed in having Cambodians manage their own arts institutions. In the years that followed the opening of the National Museum and the art school, he replaced the French staff, first appointed by the French authorities, with Cambodians, said Mr Davis, who has researched Mr Groslier’s life.

The 466-page book includes the original French text and sketches drawn by Mr Groslier him­self, as well as the English translation of his text and an illustrated Groslier bio­graphy written in English.

The book launch starts at 11 am.

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