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Dance Troupe Prepares for Smithsonian Perfomance

Madame Tes Sam Oeun, (left) along with her husband Tes Saroeum on 'Hello VOA' on Thursday July 22nd, 2010.
Madame Tes Sam Oeun, (left) along with her husband Tes Saroeum on 'Hello VOA' on Thursday July 22nd, 2010.

A US-Cambodian dance troupe under a renowned director is set to perform in Washington. The Dance Troupe of Cambodian American Heritage will perform classic stories of Hinduism and Buddhism Aug. 7 as part of the ongoing “Gods of Angkor” bronze exhibit at the Smithsonian's Free and Sackler galleries.

The dance troupe will be guided by its director, Tes Sam Oeun, a National Endowment for the Arts heritage fellow.

“Under her direction, the dance troupe has performed in numerous venues, including events of the Smithsonian Institution, the White House, the Kennedy Center, the World Monument Fund, and numerous folk festivals,” Tes Saroeum, president of the Cambodian American Heritage, told “Hello VOA” Thursday.

Tes Saroeum, who is also Tes Sam Oeun's husband, said the troupe will perform scenes from the mythical Vessantara Jataka, a Buddhist story.

“This story is very popular in Cambodia,” he said.

The story depicts the travails of a prince, Vessantara, who gives away his possessions and even his family in service to charity.

The troupe will also perform scenes from the Ramayana, Tes Saroeum said. All the performances will match the dual influences of both Buddhism and Hinduism in the “Gods of Angkor” exhibition.

Khmer classical dancing can be called Apsara dancing, he said, reflecting a belief that the style stems from the dance practiced in the courts of Angkorian kings.

“So when the Smithsonian asked us to perform something related to the ‘Gods of Angkor’...we decided to perform the story of Prince Vessantara, which is close to the exhibit’s crowned Buddha, and the story of Ramayana, which is related to the Hindu bronze sculptures.”