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Hong Kong Debut of The Royal Ballet of Cambodia

July 24, 2017 Destination North Asia No Comments Email Email

Inscribed as a UNESCO Intangible Heritage, the Royal Ballet of Cambodia is a dance form and heritage descended directly from the Royal Court of The Kingdom of Cambodia and has previously graced Marseille, New York and Monaco. The Royal Ballet of Cambodia will perform ‘Les Etoiles du Ballet’ in the Studio Theatre at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre from 25 and 26 August 2017 at 8pm with ticket prices for HKD200-300 available at UBRTIX. This is the first ever Hong Kong appearance, and proceeds from the performance will go straight to support the performers.

“The royal ballet is a Cambodian tradition dating back more than 1,000 years. In spite of past adversity, it has always been revived.” Her Royal Highness Princess Norodom Buppha Devi, Director of the Royal Ballet, Member of the Constitutional Council, and sister of His Majesty the King Norodom Sihamoni.

Revived in large part since the 1970’s by Her Royal Highness Princess Norodom Buppha Devi, The Royal Ballet has found funding and footing in Cambodia in recent generations thanks to the tireless work by local ministries and international support. Alongside the Princess, His Royal Highness Prince Sisowath Tesso promotes Khmer art, organizing performances of The Royal Ballet of Cambodia abroad.

Featuring an elite troupe of 14 dancers, 5 musicians and 3 singers who typically perform only for royalty or very exclusive events, The Royal Ballet of Cambodia is a cultural ambassador. The goal of this Hong Kong debut is to raise cultural awareness of Cambodia within the Hong Kong community to create a long-term atmosphere of unity between the two places.

The performance

Every year, hundreds compete for one of 50 coveted places in The Royal Ballet, with training starting from the age of six, a lifelong commitment for King and country.

Different from Western ballet techniques, many of the poses have specific symbolic meanings.  The dance itself is less dramatic and the deliberate slowness of the movements is an art form where hundreds of motions need to be memorized for the hands and feet alone. These calculated movements have changed little over time, retelling legends associated with the origins of the Khmer people. Consequently, Cambodians have long esteemed this tradition as the emblem of Khmer culture.

Four distinct character types exist in the classical repertory: Neang the woman, Neayrong the man, Yeak the giant, and Sva the monkey. Each character is identified by distinctive colours, costumes, makeup and masks. The gestures and poses, mastered by the dancers only after years of intensive training, tell of the whole spectrum of human emotions.

An orchestra will accompany the performance, and a female chorus that sing of the plot and emotions on behalf of the dancers, were once considered the kings’ messengers to the gods and to the ancestors.

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