Lowell’s Cambodian cultural dance troupe returns to the stage

The Angkor dance troupe will soon return to the stage for two performances as they celebrate 35 years of traditional Cambodian arts at Lowell.

This comes after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, during which a whole host of scheduled events were cancelled.

Despite the long hiatus, the 50-member troupe continued to train and practice, new executive director Bora Chiemruom said.

“The dancers were able to retain their skills during the pandemic because they stayed connected to each other,” Chiemruom said. “The troupe is like family, and they’ve worked informally with our founder, Tim Thou, and artistic project manager Chummeng Soun, who has been with the company for 20 years.”

The Angkor Dance Troupe was founded by Thou in 1986. It is a nationally recognized Cambodian traditional arts organization that seeks to connect communities through the arts.

“Our goal has always been to bring art as a means of healing for our community,” Chiemruom said. “What a wonderful way, after coming out of the pandemic, to bring these two incredible performances to the community.”

She said the dancers ranged in age from 10 to 50, with several hailing from when the organization was founded. The troupe’s work with young people is part of its mission to “preserve, promote and cherish Cambodian ancient and cultural arts and the Khmer language”.

The shows include six classic pieces: Preah Samut Neang Bot Somaly, 100-year Whiteface Dancer and Tep Soung Va, Apsara, Tavet, Hanuman and Sovan Macha.

The performances feature the work and expertise of Neakru Voan Savay, a master teacher and former principal dancer of the Khmer Royal Ballet, who hails from Paris, France. Her participation in the project was made possible through a cultural exchange program supported by the Clark Arts Institute of Williamstown.

Ahead of their appearance at Boarding House Park on Sunday, August 7, the dancers will perform at the institute as part of an ongoing exhibition “Rodin in the United States: Confronting the Modern.” Lowell Sun

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