Two Performances Promise to Challenge Audience, Dancers

Two dances to be presented by the Institut Francais on Wednesday night promise to be a mixture of upbeat and mystifying moments, with both works experimental but on different levels.

“Alphabet,” which was conceived by dancer and choreographer Chumvan Sodhachivy, also known as Belle, is a dance with some elements of theater. “It’s about the importance of education,” she said.

Dancers Chy Lina, foreground, with, from left, Kao Sithy Nita, Khon Chansina, Chamran Sophea, Soy Chanborey, Chy Ratana and Khon Chan Sithyka rehearsing the contemporary dance 'Alphabet.' (Siv Channa)
Dancers Chy Lina, foreground, with, from left, Kao Sithy Nita, Khon Chansina, Chamran Sophea, Soy Chanborey, Chy Ratana and Khon Chan Sithyka rehearsing the contemporary dance ‘Alphabet.’ (Siv Channa)

Most of the dancers are Amrita Performing Arts’ contemporary artists who have widely performed in Cambodia and abroad. But they are not usually asked to talk or sing as well as dance, Ms. Sodachivy said. “For them it’s really difficult.”

Difficult though it may be, the artists certainly manage in “Alphabet.” The result is a colorful and dynamic show with unexpected moments in terms of costume and staging; including sung and spoken episodes set around the figure of a venerable teacher character interpreted by actress Nou Sondad, who happens to be Ms. Sodachivy’s mother.

The text includes well-known Cambodian poems on the virtues of education. In addition, some aspects of the dance—costumes that go from black to bright yellow or red—are meant to demonstrate the array of artforms and styles in the country today, Ms. Sodhachivy said.

The second part of the show is an experimental production conceived by French director Fabrice Planquette of the A.Lter S.Essio company. Called “Loss-Duo,” it will be interpreted by dancer-choreographer Yum Keiko Takayama and Ms. Sodhachivy, who will dance next to each other but with each one performing her own interpretation of the piece.

“I create a context in which the dancers will set their choreographies. That is, I have written the sound score, the visual score, and the dramatic score…. I describe the situation, action and state, and it’s up to the dancers to translate this into their own styles,” Mr. Planquette said.

While the work has been performed some 60 times around the globe as a solo piece since 2009, this will be only the third time that it has been interpreted as a duo, the first time having been in Japan and the second in France, he said.

The two dances will be presented Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m. at the theater of the Department of Performing Arts located behind the Spark Club and accessible through Street 173 off Mao Tse Toung Boulevard.

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