Newly Built Hall To Showcase Traditional Cambodian Arts

In an open-walled wooden hall with a tile roof, more than 100 street children will learn traditional apsara dancing.

The hall, near Komplouk Lake in Russei Keo district, opened Friday with a dance performance attended by about 100 officials from the Ministry of Culture, the Royal University of Fine Arts, Phnom Penh Municipality and lo­cal authorities.

Officials said the construction of the hall was a step toward getting in touch with Cambodia’s cultural roots. “Now is the time for Cam­bodians to conserve and de­velop the country’s traditions,” said Hang Soth, director of the culture and arts department of the Ministry of Culture.

The hall was funded by the Sa­su­misou Foundation of Japan through Unesco Cambodia.

It cost about $70,000 and in­cludes accommodations for the children, said Chay Sopha, chairman of the Apsara Arts Associ­ation, the organization that will op­erate the hall.

Chay Sopha said King Noro­dom Sihanouk and Queen Noro­dom Monineath granted the as­sociation $3,000 for three years. The money will be used to pay for the children’s transportation and meals.

The association was founded in 1998 by a professor of apsara art and dance at RUFA. It has trained 143 children, 33 of whom have completed the three-year primary-level dance curriculum.

The others study classical dance, traditional dance, symphonic music, yikee (storytelling dance) and pin peat (traditional music).

Toy Keuon, a RUFA professor, said the association is performing a valuable service by sustaining Cambodia’s national identity.

“As humans, we need to have not only bodily health, but also a healthy sense of identity,” he said.

Mop Sarin, deputy governor of Phnom Penh municipality, said he doesn’t know much about culture and traditional arts, but he likes music and dancing.

“We need food for our stomachs, but we also need food for our feelings and our eyes,” he said.

According to Mop Sarin, the municipality is planning to hand over a building in the Wat Phnom complex to the city’s art association to show its commitment to the arts.

“This way, tourists will see not only Wat Phnom; they will see art created by young Cam­bodians,” he said.

In addition, an exhibition hall un­der construction on the Chroy Changva peninsula will showcase cultural events as well as host national and international conferences, Mop Sarin said.

When finished, the hall will have a similar design to the Nat­ion­al Museum but will be four times larger.


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