Saturday, June 14, 2008

Apsara Arts

I visited Apsara Arts Association in Tuol Kork early this morning to watch the youngsters practicing their traditional Khmer classical dance in the wooden headquarters of the Phnom Penh-based NGO that provides free dance training for poor children from the age of four to late teens. Students can attend morning or evening classes according to their school schedules, so we saw just a few of the over 150 students students enrolled with the NGO, plying their skills. Funding remains an ever-present obstacle for the association explained Vong Metry, the vice-director and former classical dancer and teacher at the Royal University of Fine Arts. They host performances every Saturday night for the public but a lack of funds affects their ability to pay teachers and even to switch on the electricity, so beware that performances can be cancelled. The center also houses twenty children who are orphans and in vulnerable circumstances and ensures they receive a place to live, eat, go to school and of course, learn to dance or play music. Get along to the Apsara HQ if you have some spare time in Phnom Penh, they'll be pleased to see you.
Some of the teenage girls practice their art
The end of their first practice session this morning
Instruction never stops for some of the youngest dancers
Some of the Giant masks used in performances


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Andy,

thanks for the note about one of the best highlights from my last trip. I LOVED my experience there (I attended a rehearsal) and the kids were great. One of them was undergoing a performance exam and was truly amazing in the refinement of the techniques she displayed. Traditional Cambodian classical dance is a stunning and beautiful art form. It's a shame to hear that they are struggling with even basic necessities. If there's one cultural element i've seen on my two trips to Cambodia that should be nurtured it's indeed that one. If you plan a trip that takes you through Phnom Penh make it a point to attend a performance or rehearsal there, you won't regret it,

Mike K.

June 15, 2008 4:01 PM  

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