Monday, January 18, 2010


The cover of the book Beyond the Apsara, with contemporary dancer Belle in full flow
There's a book that was published by Routledge of India at the back-end of last year about Cambodia but which is a bit like gold-dust here at the moment. There's only a couple of books in the country just now with more expected soon. I've been loaned a copy of it - Beyond the Apsara: Celebrating Dance in Cambodia - to have a good look through which I'm doing right now. To say I'm disappointed that Em Theay has been given just a single paragraph in the book would be an understatement, and if it wasn't for an article by Hun Pen then it could also have overlooked the tireless work of another dance master, Chea Samy, to resurrect Khmer classical dance after the Pol Pot period. Contemporary dance is given more column inches than ever before, and combined with articles on classical dance, it looks like the book will present a far more in-depth look at Cambodian dance than ever before, especially with some mini-interviews with 25 dance artists of different ages. It's been printed by an academic publisher so the photos inside the book are poorly printed, which gets a minus mark. More on the book later when I've read it from cover to cover.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010


This is a quick-fire update on some of the new book releases that have just happened or will be happening sometime soon where Cambodia looms large in the publication. Guidebook-wise, Cambodia is now getting more solo billing and Moon Cambodia will publish its first Cambodia-only edition next month, 344 pages, authored by Tom Vater. A smaller guidebook, Moon Spotlight Angkor Wat, will be out in April. Nat Geo Traveller's slimline Cambodia (right) will be out soon enough, also next month, 320 pages by Trevor Ranges. And in March, Frommer's will put out their Cambodia & Laos edition, by Daniel White, 352 pages.
Keep an eye out for Carrying Cambodia, a photographic book from Hans Kemp and Conor Wall that should be out around May. This Thursday is the book launch at Monument Books for Cambodians and Their Doctors by Jan Oversen and Ing-Britt Trankell, which I mentioned in a post a few days ago. My good pal Eric de Vries will be publishing his photographic tome Retrospective 00/10 in the next few months too.
A couple of books I missed at the back end of last year. Alive in the Killing Fields by Nawuth Keat with Martha Kendall is aimed at teenagers, 112 pages and the story of Nawuth's survival through the Khmer Rouge time. More of an academic publication is Peg Levine's 260 page Love and Dread in Cambodia: Weddings, Births and Ritual Harm Under the Khmer Rouge, from Singapore University Press. And of course don't forget Beyond the Apsara – Celebrating Dance in Cambodia, co-edited by Stephanie Burridge and Fred Frumberg, which should be available sometime soon.

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

It's all about dance

Performers from the Khmer Arts Ensemble at practice
There's a lot of dance stuff taking place this year, whether its classical, contemporary and a combination of both. When I hear about it, you'll know too. Currently in town are a collective from Singapore and beyond under the auspices of the Flying Circus Project, hosted by Amrita Performing Arts. They're in Phnom Penh at the moment but will be going up to Siem Reap in a day or two. Not sure if the collaboration with local artists like Belle will translate into a public performance anywhere. Meanwhile Meta House will be hosting a couple of Saturday night dance pieces directed by Bob Ruijzendaal over the next two weekends. On 9 January, Leng Sakkona will collaborate with Mom and Davy for an experimental piece linked to sounds and on 16 January, Mom, Davy and Sopheap will present a revision of a show they performed a few weeks ago at the same venue. Later in the year Amrita will be taking their Khmeropedies II project to Hong Kong, Singapore, New York and New Haven. Created by Emmanuèle Phuon, it has elements of classical court dance and contemporary movements and will involve such luminaries as Belle, Sam Sathya and Chey Chankethya. Also the Khmer Arts Ensemble under the tutelage of Sophiline Cheam Shapiro will be putting on classical shows in Cambodia before heading over to the United States later in the year for a major tour.
A brand new book dedicated to dance in Cambodia is just out. Beyond the Apsara – Celebrating Dance in Cambodia was co-edited by Stephanie Burridge and Fred Frumberg of Amrita and published by Routledge India. With ten chapters by established international practitioners and 25 essays written by a wide range of Cambodian dancers, the book honors the many efforts to revitalize Cambodian dance, as well as while expressing the hopes and fears of today’s generation of Cambodian dancers. The launch took place at the World Dance Alliance conference in New Delhi at the end of November. Additional launches are scheduled in Singapore and Phnom Penh early this year. 242 pages and retailing at just under $100. A peek at the contents reveals essays from HRH Princess Buppha Devi, Toni Shapiro-Phim, Hun Pen, Sophiline Cheam Shapiro and others. And Belle is on the front cover photo.

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