The Royal Ballet of Cambodia will perform in a performance held at BYU on Saturday, Nov. 1. The ballet has performed all over the world and is known for the beautiful costumes and choreography by her Royal Highness Princess Norodom Buppha Devi.
The ballet is part of the BRAVO! series here on the BYU campus. Jeff Martin, producer of the BRAVO! series, chose the Royal Ballet of Cambodia with BYU students in mind.
“I’m really interested in exposing our audiences and students to art forms that they don’t have access to,” Martin said. “As a university we are really interested in Asia. This particular group caught my eye because they are so talented and unique.”
The Cambodian Ballet is called a ballet, but it is not western classical ballet like students here at BYU may be used to seeing. Martin explained that the arrival of the Cambodian Ballet is a unique opportunity to preserve the history of the Cambodian culture. The culture almost disappeared from the earth in the 1970s, but performances like this one help keep the culture alive.
The Cambodian Ballet has highlighted the country’s royal events for centuries and is a prestigious group in the country. The troupe has been rumored to perform rituals that they believe connect the average mortal with the divine.
Members of the Ballet will be well taken care of when they are here on campus. Martin is in charge of all the performing groups in the BRAVO! series. He has arranged a comfortable place for the dancers to stay and will provide all of their meals. He also arranged for returned missionaries that speak Cambodian to translate for BYU officials that will be in direct contact with the dancers. This will put the dancers at ease as they perform here.
“We try to immerse them in our world,” Martin said. “Without fail they are touched by the spirit that is on this campus. We love to facilitate interaction between students, which is one of the main reasons why we have scheduled a dance and workshop.”
The dancers will have a workshop with the dance students in the dance department on Monday after their performance on Saturday.
“I think the workshop is going to be an awesome experience,” said Marybeth Johnson, dancer with BYU’s International Folk Dance team. “It isn’t going to be like the ballet we are used to. From what I have heard about them, it is a unique culture and style of dance. I think that there will be lots of gestures that will have specific meaning and that will be interesting. I am very excited to see them.”
Martin explained that the workshop will be a good opportunity for the BYU students to have contact with international dancers.
Nellie Kacher, dancer with the International Folk Dance team, served her mission in Cambodia and is excited to see the Cambodian Ballet perform.
“I think it is going to be a very different experience for the students because the Cambodian style of dance is very different than anything we have in the states,” Kacher said. “I am looking forward to speaking with them in their native language, and I know a little bit about what the dancers will be teaching us because most of my companions were Cambodian and I have seen their unique style.”
The Cambodian Ballet will perform on Saturday, Nov. 1, at 7:30 p.m. in the de Jong Concert Hall.