Cambodian royal ballet dazzles in Beijing

Updated: May 2, 2018 Chinaculture.org Print
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Dancers from the Royal Ballet of Cambodia perform in Beijing on April 28, 2018. [Photo/Xinhua]

With a giant LED screen presenting a panoramic view of the mysterious Angkor Wat and Cambodia's natural scenery, dancers from the Royal Ballet of Cambodia appeared onstage in Beijing on Saturday. The dancers' graceful hand gestures, dazzling costumes and subtle, powerful choreography made it hard for audience members to take their eyes away from the performance.
It's been 10 years since the last time the Khmer troupe performed in the Chinese capital in 2008 during the Beijing Olympics. This time, the show is among 130 different performances during the month-long Meet in Beijing Arts Festival, which will run through late May.

The 90-minute show at the Tianqiao Performing Arts Center contained a finely choreographed selection of traditional Khmer songs and dances, with a Chinese flair to celebrate the 60th anniversary of China-Cambodia ties.
The first climax occurred when a Cambodian singer sang a famous folk song, Molihua (Jasmine Blossom) in Chinese, as audience members spontaneously clapped in rhythm and sang along.
Two songs written by late Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk were also performed: Nostalgic China and China, My Second Hometown, both of which were composed during the late king's visit to China.


Dancers from the Royal Ballet of Cambodia perform in Beijing on April 28, 2018. [Photo/Xinhua]

Once performed only for royalty, the Royal Ballet of Cambodia, also known as Khmer Classical Dance, is now attracting audiences among the masses in and outside Cambodia. It has performed in many places in China since 1958, when the troupe first came to China under the invitation of then-premier Zhou Enlai.

Its repertoire perpetuates legends associated with the origins of the Khmer people. Widely considered a cultural treasure of Cambodia, the art form was inscribed in the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2003.
Talking to media ahead of the show, Feng Mi, a retired dancer with the China Oriental Performing Arts Group and an expert in Southeast Asian dances, said the dance was named as an international heritage because of its history and uniqueness. "It's filled with Buddhist elements, delicate and sacred," she said.

Saturday's show was attended by more than 500 people, including Chinese Culture and Tourism Minister Luo Shugang, Princess Bopha Devi, daughter of late Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk and director of the royal ballet, and Khek Cai Mealy Sysoda, Cambodian Ambassador to China.


The Royal Ballet of Cambodia is known for graceful hand gestures and dazzling costumes. [Photo/Xinhua]

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