Classical to Contemporary: Khmeropédies I & II


Emmanuèle Phuon – Choreographer:

In the current exhibit of the Musée Guimet in Paris, one can see the very first sculpted images of Buddha in the art of Gandhara, in Pakistan. The influences of Greek art are visible, not only in the features but in the curls of the hair and the drapes, Buddha looking very much like Apollo... This triggered throughout Asia all the representations of Buddha which did not exist before.

Ruth St Denis and Ted Shawn, pioneers of American Modern Dance, made their own interpretation of sacred dances of India, Chinese court dances or Cambodian dance.

The brewing of ideas and styles has existed always, and has always been a source of renewal for artists.

Contemporary Khmer Dance, a brand new discipline, can only look abroad for its initial flight. It is crucial for Cambodian artists to be part of events such as the Festival of Arts & Ideas, precisely because these events provide the right environment for the development of their art, where they get to see more influential artists, compare their ideas and be inspired by other contemporary thoughts and expressions.

Chey Chankethya – Dancer:

I think it is a great opportunity to bring a new face of Cambodian dance to the US audiences who mostly have only experienced Cambodian classical dance. It is important to share with the rest of the world about the big cultural transformation taking place in Cambodia.

 To me this contemporary piece of work is not just only about showing movement or beauty of the dance but it reveals a new Cambodian thought. The dance piece is able to tell the audience exactly how the traditional Cambodian dance transforms overtime and how one culture interacts with others.

 The piece helps us explain to the audience one way of keeping Cambodian traditional dance alive while at the same time to make a uniquely Cambodian contemporary statement.   

The work is talking about each individual dancer so in that way it is also special.  It tells about who the dancers are and what do they want as Cambodian artists.