PHNOM PENH - A group of performing artists in Cambodia say they are working to ensure that Cambodia is internationally known for more than a genocidal regime that ruled the country more than 30 years ago.
That includes the ongoing performances now underway in New York for the Season of Cambodia festival—where many works and performances are on display in April and May.
In Phnom Penh, dance rehearsal is underway.
“Now we’ve developed a lot with the arts and with our Khmer talent,” said Chy Rotana, a member of a dance troupe with Amrita Performing Arts. “We have ideas and strong resources to make the world see that we are able to create works.”
The troupe will perform at the Abrons Arts Center in New York April 18 and April 19. Their performance, “Olden New Golden Blue,” explores the dancers’ relationship with their past.
“This festival in New York is going to be irresistible and hopefully change the established mindset that Cambodia is associated with Angkor Wat and also the Khmer Rouge wars,” said Peter Chin, choreographer of the contemporary work. “But now this gives us the opportunity to redefine Cambodia as a cultural, artistic nation.”
That means re-imagining a country that went through decades of civil war and the brutal regime of the Khmer Rouge, said Kang Rithisal, program director of Amrita Performing Arts.
“The opportunity for Cambodia’s new generation of artists to perform there contributes hugely to the country’s integration into the international stage and makes Cambodia heard of and known beyond its bitter past,” he said.
The troupe joins more than 100 Cambodian artists for the festival, which officially opens April 13.
Prim Phloeun, executive director of Cambodian Living Arts and the CEO of the festival, said the world’s understanding of Cambodia needs to shift.
“The generation of young people today are trying to learn about their cultural identity and creating their own new works,” he said. “So now is the time for Cambodia to show the world our culture.”