Feb 16 2012
While many visitors to Phnom Penh find themselves immersed in the many nightlife options the city has to offer, never fear, that’s not all there is to do on a Thursday evening! Why not take in a show of traditional Khmer dance, instead?
Cambodian Living Arts sponsors dance performances every Thursday night until the end of March in front of the National Museum. I saw the show recently, and highly recommend it to visitors or locals looking to gain a deeper understanding of traditional Khmer culture or just enjoy a visually stimulating and highly entertaining evening while the weather is still pleasant-ish.
Led by Master Ieng Sithul, one of Cambodia’s most famous traditional singers and performers, each hour-long dance performance features seven traditional and Khmer folk dances representing Khmer life, from apsara dancers in elaborate costumes to a number of dances from minority groups around the country. The colourful costumes and big smiles (and Sovann Machha dance where dancers act like monkeys) mean that kids will enjoy the show as well.
The Children of Bassac are a dance troupe of young people between the ages of 17 and 22 from the Bassac community, a slum area of Phnom Penh. Many of the dancers are former street children, the the programme offers them an opportunity to earn a decent salary and make a better life for themselves. All of the proceeds from the show go to the performers, who are also eligible for scholarships for further education.
“We give the performers the opportunity to earn a living through the arts and build capacity,” Marion Gommard from Cambodian Living Arts told me. “We are creating a future for these young artists — the idea is to create a sustainable model for regular cultural performances in Phnom Penh.”
The performance offers an alternative to orphanage tourism or giving money to street kids in that it helps lift a group of hard-working, underprivileged young people out of poverty, but in a sustainable way that offers them the real chance of a better life while at the same time preserving traditional Khmer culture.
Shows are every Thursday at 19:00 until April in front of the National Museum, St 178 and St 13, Phnom Penh. Arrive a few minutes early to purchase a ticket.
Tickets cost $18/person, $15/person for 10 or more, $10/person for children under 12 or $40 for families (2 adults and up to 3 children).
Cambodian Living Arts
T: (017) 998 570
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