Cambodia’s Royal Ballet performed in New York earlier this month for the first time in decades. The performance, part of the Season of Cambodia arts festival, was not just a pleasure for Americans to see, however. It also brought pride to many Cambodians who fled their home country and ended up as far as Canada and the United States. VOA Khmer’s Poch Reasey reports from New York.
An estimated 80 percent of Cambodia’s artists were among some two million victims of the Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970s; their skills and knowledge were lost since Cambodian culture is still largely oral. But in the last two decades, a new generation of Cambodian artists has sought to revive those classical arts and invent new forms. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver reports on New York's “Season of Cambodia”, a festival designed to help further that revival.
“Woman of Angkor,” by retired American journalist John Burgess, took 10 years to write. But Burgess’s love of the period started much earlier: he first visited the Angkor complex in 1969. Burgess told VOA Khmer at a recent book reading in Washington that the temples have ever since captivated him. “I would love for Angkor to become better known in the world,” said John Burgess, a former assistant foreign editor for the Washington Post. “In the western world, we all grow up knowing about ancient Egypt, ancient Greece, and ancient Rome. We know who were the great kings, what were some of the historical events, but the Angkor civilization is very much the equal of those civilizations in terms of Gloria and grandiose and construction and arts and yet almost no body in this country knows about Angkor. So, I hope that through this book a few more people will become familiar with this great great civilization.” (Im Sothearith, Washington)
The Cambodian American Heritage group recently put on a cultural performance in Arlington, Va., outside of Washington. More than 500 people attended the show, which included arts, culture and tourist attractions. VOA Khmer's Pin Sisovann reports from the performance.
Known as “a small lady with a big heart,” Ravynn Karet-Coxen aims to bring her team of sacred dancers to perform at Buddhist temples and to meet Cambodian communities in the US later this year. Karet-Coxen, who left Cambodia in 1970 and returned in 1992, told VOA Khmer’s Men Kimseng in a recent interview that she had created a dance troupe to pray at temples to help call for greater spirituality for Cambodians, and to call on divine powers to return to the temples and “bless our land, our people, our government.”
As Cambodian-Americans prepare to celebrate the Khmer New Year, different communities must pick different weekends to celebrate in April. Sok Sovannarorth, of the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, shares her New Year’s plans with VOA Khmer’s Men Kimseng.