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Master Leads Emerging Students in US Dance Tour

The Children of Bassac Classical and Folk Dance group perform in front of the National Museum in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

“The Children of Bassac,” a troupe of emerging Cambodian classic and folk dancers, is touring the US through May 10.

The performance is led by master artist Ieng Sithul, who told “Hello VOA” on Thursday he wants to see Khmer dance showcased internationally.

“We put on several performances a day,” he said. “We are all tired, but we have a mission and that is to promote and explain Khmer culture.”

Ieng Sithul is traveling with one other musician and 51 students, including 21-year-old Neang Visal.

“Last night I was so moved and so proud to be able to perform on the international stage, to show the world Cambodian arts and its rich culture,” said Neang Visal, following a performance in New York.

Eighteen-year-old Duong Dara Penh, another dance student, said she was moved by the applause from the audience.

“I was so moved,” she said. “Tears almost came to my eyes. It was such an amazing crowd.”

Ieng Sithul said Thursday he formed the group in 2003 with the support of the government and Cambodian Living Arts, an NGO.

The idea was to support artists with great potential but few means to study. There are now 15 students studying under Ieng Sithul, who is a master of numerous Cambodian classical insruments.

“The Children of Bassac” will also perform at the Khmer temple in Brooklyn, New York, before moving on to Vermont, Connecticut, Boston and Lowell.