MTF Presents A Retrospective Highlighting Rare Ancient Photographs Of Traditional Dances in French Indochina
For the first time during the Mekong Tourism Forum, a special photographic exhibition has been organised by Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office showing an exceptional collection of ancient pictures of dancers and performers, mostly at Royal Courts in former French Indochina.
Called ‘Indochina Splendour: a 1932 Vision’, the 48 selected black and white photographs are taken from an old French book ‘Danses d’Indochine’.
Published in 1932 and written by French writer Raymond Cogniat, it is a precious testimony of cultural tradition through dances and costumes from 80 years ago. It also highlights the fascination that France had for « exotic » cultures.
Pictures show Cambodia’s Royal Ballet both at Angkor Wat and Phnom Penh Royal Palace, troops from the Royal Ballet in Vientiane and Luang Prabang in Laos as well as pictures of dancers and performers for the 40th birthday of Vietnamese Emperor Bao Dhai in the imperial city of Hue (Annam- today Central Vietnam). There are also pictures of popular ethnic dances from Northern Laos and Northern Vietnam (formerly Tonkin) as well as Chinese performers from South Vietnam (formerly Cochinchina).
In its introduction, Raymond Cogniat observes that the “…Exotic dances from any country constantly remind us of the instinctive and ritual origins of the art of choreography. Their instinctive qualification – as they reflect to a certain extent their aspirations and humanity- are a powerful means of expression, a universal language, which are more directly perceptible than other arts.”
« The beauty of these pictures show that from early on, the Greater Mekong Subregion attracted travellers from all around the world. This small exhibition is a testimony of Mekong’s everlasting beauty and explains why today it still retains its fascinating mystical appeal to many visitors », said Jens Thraenhart, Executive Director Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office.
The photographic exhibition is on view in the main conference hall of Sokha Beach Hotel, Sihanoukville, the selected venue for the Forum, which takes place from July 5 to 7, 2016.