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Child Dance Troupe Aims for Paid Theater

Two groups, Cambodian Living Arts and the Editions du Mekong, hope to introduce national and international tourists to a traditional folk dance through performances by the Children of Bassac at the Phnom Penh National Museum, representatives of the groups said on “Hello VOA” Monday.

Children of Bassac performed for National Cultural Day March 25 and plan another performance for Khmer New Year April 1. Both shows are preludes to planned weekly performances in November and December.

Soeur Vuthy, assistant master of Children of Bassac, told “Hello VOA” the company has 24 dancers, all between the ages of 16 and 21, and was created in 2003 by master Ieng Sithul, a traditional theater singer.

Cambodia Living Arts offers children from disadvantaged backgrounds a chance to tap into Cambodian culture, Soeur Vuthy said.

“The youth from the Children of Bassac Company all live on the Bassac community,” Soeur Vuthy said. “CLA would like to promote them to the general public and help them earn a living from their art.”

Student Neang Kavich has been studying traditional folk dance and music in Ieng Sithul’s classes for six years and is now attending film school at Limkokwing University with the support of CLA’s Arts Scholarship.

Another student, Cham Roun Sophear, began dance classes at age 13. Now she stands out among her peers, and sometime advises younger classmates. She continues to develop her skills in dance and song at the Royal University of Fine Arts, with the support of CLA’s Arts Scholarship.

The performances at the National Museum represent eight types of classical and folk dances: Sampeah Kru, a blessing ceremony; Apsara, or celestial dancers; Beh Krawanh, picking cardamom; Sovann Machha, golden mermaid; Kroma, the scarf dance; Kuoh Angre, clapping the pestles; Chhayam, a popular folk dance usually performed at the annual Kathen religious ceremony; and Phloy Suoy, a wind instrument performance with bamboo, typically played by Cambodia’s minority tribes.