The French Cultural Center will stage Dansez! Roam, a wide-ranging recital of contemporary Cambodian dance, at 7 pm this evening and Saturday at the Chenla Theater.
The show aims to spotlight a number of up-and-coming dancers, particularly Chey Chankethya and “Belle” Chumvan Sodhachivy. Both women are renowned recent graduates of the Royal University of Fine Arts—the leading classical dance school in the country—but despite their thorough grounding in traditional techniques, they are moving in a different direction, trying to choreograph and perform pieces that are contemporary in style and theme while retaining a distinctly Cambodian flavor.
Ms Chumvan Sodhachivy, the artist in residence at the French Cultural Center, has participated in workshops and recitals in Japan, the US, Indonesia and Morocco. She will be starring this weekend in the world premiere of her new dance, “Hope of Tomorrow,” an expressive narration of her mother’s life under the Khmer Rouge.
Ms Chey Chankethya, founder of the Trey Visay Dance Company, will present several short vignettes for Dansez!, including an abstract piece called “The Mosquito Net,” which allegorizes her own journey as a dancer who becomes frustrated by the limitations of classical technique.
In an interview, Ms Chey Chankethya lamented the state of contemporary dance in Cambodia, which has no contemporary dance schools or teachers, and very few professional contemporary dancers.
“People here are very conservative; they see dance as history,” Ms Chey Chankethya said. “As a choreographer, I try to find a way to bring dance back to the present time. I want to find adventure outside the net of classical dance.”
However, she added, Cambodians seem to be becoming more alive to the possibilities of contemporary dance. “Recently, you can see a change in dance in Cambodia,” she said. “Dancers now develop themselves to become real professionals who can raise their voice in society. It is a beginning and a good thing.”
Admission to Dansez! Roam is free.