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HOLDING SPACE

THE ROYAL BALLET OF CAMBODIA

SINGAPORE PREMIERE

Produced by National Archives and Records Administration of the United States (NARA) in 1965, and dubbed in Khmer by Bophana Audiovisual Resource Center with the support of UNESCO in 2012

Sun 8 Oct | 2pm USA, Cambodia | English and Khmer | 1965 | 81 min | PG Introduction and screening of The Royal Ballet of Cambodia, with Her Royal Highness Princess Norodom Buppha Devi in attendance Live solo performance by a principal dancer from The Royal Ballet Post-show Q&A with Proeung Chhieng (Technical Director of the Royal Ballet, assistant to the Princess and former Director of the University of Fine Arts) Print source: Bophana Audiovisual Resource Center

This programme is supported by Lotus on Water, and presented with the patronage of Her Royal Highness Princess Norodom Buppha Devi in collaboration with National Gallery Singapore, Bophana Audiovisual Resource Center and the

THE NGEE ANN KONGSI AUDITORIUM

Royal Ballet of Cambodia to raise awareness about classical Khmer dance.

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The Royal Ballet of Cambodia is a rare document on classical Khmer court dance and the work of the troupe, which is supported by the royal family of Cambodia. The film starts with a lavish performance of Preah Ket Mealea, a dance drama on the myth of this divine king and the birth of Angkor. In the legend, apsaras or heavenly nymphs were commanded by the king’s father, the god Indra, to reveal the secrets of their dance to the Cambodian court at his coronation. Jayavarman II who founded the Khmer empire, later drew on this legend, appropriating the god-king status to legitimise his rule. Notwithstanding the dance’s mythical origins, the royal household has remained custodian of this traditional art form and its purity to this day. To meet standards of perfection, performers and artisans are subjected

to immense rigour in their training and preparation. This is revealed through footage of dance rehearsals at the school in the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, and of the making of costumes, masks and jewellery at the École des Beaux-Arts. The film also captures the rituals of a graduation ceremony graced by Her Majesty Queen Sisowath Kossamak Nearirath where offerings are made to the patron deity of dance, teachers, and the spirits of the masks, headdresses and instruments. The grand finale is a spellbinding solo performance by Her Royal Highness Princess Norodom Buppha Devi for buong suong, a propitiation ceremony to seek ancestral protection for Cambodia. With her flawless posture and adherence to classical forms, she offers the utmost reverence to the spirits of former kings.

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