Saturday, December 30, 2006

Classic Cambodia comes to London

The Lakhaon Khaol classical male masked dance, Weyreap's Battle, performed by members of the Amrita Performing Arts company will come to London in March 2007. Originally revived and produced with funding from the Embassy of the United States in Phnom Penh in February 2004, this production has toured to Bangkok and the 2005 Melbourne Festival In Australia and will be featured at the 2007 Barbican Bite Festival with performances on March 30, 31 and April 1 in London, at The Barbican, one of the most prestigious theatres in England. Amrita Performing Arts is an international performing arts production company based in Cambodia. Derived from the Sanskrit word meaning 'eternity', Amrita works to promote and sustain the revival and preservation of all forms of traditional Cambodian performing arts. Find out more here. The ANZ Bank in Phnom Penh is the first corporate sponsor for Amrita Performances. Their generous contribution will help Amrita mount three weekends of performances at the Chenla Theatre in the Cambodian capital featuring various forms of dance and theater in January 2007. I'm in Phnom Penh myself in January, so I hope to catch one of the shows.

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One exhibition that I will definitely visit when I get into town on 12 January are the Auguste Rodin drawings at the National Museum in Phnom Penh. The exhibition opened last week and contains 40 (out of 150) of the sculptor/artist's most famous drawings, which he completed in 1906 after being captivated by the Royal Ballet dancers of King Sisowath, who were visiting France at that time. The French government are sponsoring the exhibition (which will run through til 11 February) to celebrate the 100th anniversary of King Sisowath’s visit, and to house the fragile works on paper, a wing of the National Museum has been renovated and a room with temperature and humidity controls room constructed. The Rodin exhibition will be some compensation for about 100 of the best pieces at the museum that are currently out of the country and on display in Bonn, Germany. However, their absence has allowed another 100 items to be taken from the museum's storeroom for a rare display. Every cloud has a silver lining.
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If you haven't yet heard of a documentary film by Socheata Poeuv called New Year Baby, I'm sure you will, very soon. The film's world premiere took place on 25 November in Amsterdam at the International Documentary Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), the most prestigious documentary film festival in the world. An audience of over 200 viewed the film and gave Socheata (pictured left) a standing ovation at the end. In addition, it received the Amnesty International - 'Movies That Matter' Human Rights award - the highest international human rights honor the film can win. The jury named New Year Baby a tour de force with universal appeal. Its success has seen other screenings in the Netherlands and Amnesty have expressed interest in supporting the film for more international screenings. You can read all about the film here. And I urge you to get out and see the film when it comes to your neighbourhood.

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