Saturday, 31 January 2015

Culture

Giant ‘Cycle of Abuse’ in New Dance Adaptation

A scene from “The Lives of Giants,” a Khmer classical dance adaptation of the Ramayana story of a giant named Akaeng Kameaso, a guardian for the Hindu god Shiva who is mocked for his ugliness.
A scene from “The Lives of Giants,” a Khmer classical dance adaptation of the Ramayana story of a giant named Akaeng Kameaso, a guardian for the Hindu god Shiva who is mocked for his ugliness.
Borei SylyvannVOA Khmer

The latest dance feature from acclaimed choreographer Sophiline Cheam Shapiro is playing in California this week.

“The Lives of Giants” is a Khmer classical dance adaptation of the Ramayana story of a giant named Akaeng Kameaso, a guardian for the Hindu god Shiva who is mocked for his ugliness. On hearing this, Shiva grants him the power to inflict pain on others with the point of a finger. The aggrieved giant exacts his revenge.

Choreographer Sophiline Cheam Shapiro during a classical dance lesson
Choreographer Sophiline Cheam Shapiro during a classical dance lesson

Shapiro, who once created an adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Othello,” among other works, says this story is about the abuse of power. In that way, the show is a mythic representation of some of Cambodia’s modern woe.

“In our society, we notice that the rich, the powerful, even the educated, usually abuse the poor, the poor of wealth, education and power,” she told VOA Khmer recently. “Once the poor gain wealth, education and power, they try to take out their revenge on those who abused them earlier, thus creating what is called the cycle of abuse.”

Shapiro, who survived the Khmer Rouge and became an expert in Khmer dance after its fall, is the director and choreographer for the Khmer Arts Ensemble, a tour group based in Cambodia.

“The Lives of Giants” is showing Thursday at the University of California Santa Barbara.

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Cambodia Reduces Western Influence, Tilts Towards Locali
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30 January 2015
Cambodia tilts towards China and its acceptance of more and more Chinese aid helps the impoverished nation to reduce influence of international donors who had sought to push Cambodia towards more democratic form of governance. Sebastian Strangio, the author of “Hun Sen’s Cambodia,” told a gathering in Washington that the balance between local interest and international interest in Cambodia is beginning to tilt much more in the directions of the local. VOA’s Men Kimseng reports from Washington.

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