Thursday, January 22, 2009

Rags to riches

Sokvannara Sar is an unusual Cambodian performer. Instead of performing traditional Khmer dance, he is a rising star of classical Western-style ballet and brought his art to Phnom Penh in 2006 when he danced at the opening of the then-new American Embassy in the city to great acclaim. He's come a long way in a short time after he was spotted by arts patron Anne Bass in a dance group at Preah Khan temple in Angkor and given the opportunity to study ballet in New York. Better known to all as Sy, he has adapted incredibly well to his new life in the United States and appears on course to make a big name for himself in international ballet. His rags to riches story was the focus of Dancing Across Borders, a documentary by Anne Bass, which enjoyed a preview screening at the French Cultural Centre last night. Her sympathetic portrayal gave a glimpse into the sheer hard work needed to make an impression in the fiercely competitive world of ballet and how Sy has grasped his chance with both hands. Among the invited guests, popular Cambodian crooner Sapoun Midada, who sang the film's closing song, mixed with luminaries such as senior minister Veng Sereyvuth, former Ambassador Roland Eng and the new United States Ambassador Carol Rodley.
Film director Anne Bass with Khmer singer-songwriter Sapoun Midada at last night's screening
The song that closed last night's film is called Pouk Euy, Me Euy, or Dear Father, Dear Mother, and sung by Sapoun Midada, a superstar amongst Cambodia's music-hungry fans. Alongwith Preap Sovath, Midada is at the very pinnacle of the music scene in Cambodia and writes many of his own songs. He's particularly known for his sentimental love songs though the song for the film was based on a county boy who moved to the city to support his family by playing guitar, something which Midada is also well-known for.

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Blogger Ron said...

Haven't heard of him much over here in the western hemeshere, but now that I know, I'll be keeping my ears and eyes open.

Thanks for the heads up, Andy.

January 22, 2009 8:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like the fact that Mr. Midada writes many of his own songs. He's handsome and can sings with beautiful, Khmer, male voice. I'm glad you mentioned him, here, Andy. Thank you.

January 22, 2009 10:51 AM  
Blogger Andy Brouwer said...

Dear Anon,
I met Saphoun briefly after the screening and he came across as a very pleasant, unassuming individual without any air of the superstar status he has in his own country. In fact he was apologetic that his English wasn't as good as he wanted it to be. Nice guy.
A female friend of mine saw him walking from the venue to his car and nearly fainted with admiration. She excitedly ran to tell me that she had just seen Midada and he smiled at her - it made her day. I ruined her day when I told her that if she had arrived 5 minutes earlier, she could've met him in person! She was absolutely gutted!

January 22, 2009 1:02 PM  
Blogger Andy Brouwer said...

The translation of the song Pouk Euy, Me Euy (or Dear Father, Dear Mother), by Sipoun Midada that can be heard over the closing credits is as follows:

Dear Father, Dear Mother
In the silence of the night,
I am dreaming of our land and of you who used to take care of me regardless of how you suffered
and I am so nostalgic
The city is pretty clean and I am trying to earn a living in the music selling my songs,
and tomorrow I am going back home to see you in order for you not to suffer anymore
I used to listen to the music of the village
sleeping on your lap and you were singing to me every night,
now I have grown up I am really grateful to you mother
and please be assured that I am going to take care of you forever
Dear Father, Dear Mother
This song is dedicated to you, offering my love as a singer with his guitar
earning money to help the family help you father and mother
to ease your suffering.

Thanks to Anne and her team for the translation.

January 23, 2009 10:43 AM  

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