Positions available at Amrita – Projects Manager and Communications Officer

Join our team – Projects Manager and Communications Officer positions available


Please go to the link below to download the job descriptions and application form.



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Royal recognition

Everyone here at Amrita was so proud yesterday when our Chairman Fred Frumberg, Executive Director Kang Rithisal and ex-Country Director Suon Bun Rith received royal decoration in the Order of Muni Isvarabarna (or Monisaraphon) in the class of Askararidha-Assarith (Knight) at the Royal Palace to acknowledge the work they have done for the arts in Cambodia.

The whole experience was very special, made even more memorable by being surrounded by friends, colleagues, past collaborators and masters who also received the award.

Among the masters receiving the award were Penh Yom, a dance master of the giant role in Cambodian classical dance. She has performed and taught this dance all her life. Yit Sarin is a dance master of Lakhaon Kaol. He was handpicked by Queen Kossomak in the 1960s to be the first male dancer when she made the national decision to replace the usually-female dancers for the role of male dancer with actual male dancers. He is very old but still teaching dance in his hometown.

Amrita is a contemporary dance company but the contemporary initiatives of the new generation of dancers we are nurturing is greatly inspired by what many masters, such as these two, have transferred.

The three men of Amrita Performing Arts were honored to be recognized. It was a lovely moment – of acknowledgement, nostalgia, and encouragement – after many years of work.



Chairman Fred Frumberg and Executive Director Kang Rithisal


Ex-Country Director Suon Bun Rith, Chairman Fred Frumberg and Executive Director Kang Rithisal


All the medal recipients

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A new piece…?

Choreographer Emmanuèle Phuon (who created Khmeropédies I, II and III) arrived back in Phnom Penh last week to start working with some of our dancers on a new dance project. In this blog she briefly explains the new project.


left to right: Kong Ly Hou (friend of Saran), dancer Nget Rady, teacher Hem Saran, dancer Khon Chan Sithyka (Mo), choreographer Emmanuèle Phuon and dancer Noun Sovitou (Tou)

That’s right! we are embarking on a new adventure.

Last Tuesday, three of Amrita’s group, Rady, Mo and Tou, started to work on a new piece…

OK, I don’t know yet if it will be a new piece, and the subject, Khmer boxing is rough. Rough on the body, rough to put on stage, rough in my mind… Thank God I have Sopheap to assist me in this, and three very patient, hard working, and willing men.

We brought in Hem Saran as our specialist. Saran is a professional boxer and helps us get the moves right. We are always afraid that he will get carried away and throw one of us a real punch, but so far so good.

We’ll keep you posted!

Emmanuèle Phuon

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Sal takes over the Big Apple


Our Executive Director Kang Rithisal has just returned from an intensive three week trip to New York.  Sal received an ISPA fellowship to participate in three events. On a personal level this trip is the continuation of Sal integrating into a global network of arts presenters and producers. On an organizational level this is the continuation of the representation of Cambodia at an international level. Attending events such as these introduces Cambodia’s performing arts sector to presenters and producers from around the world and helps them to access Cambodian work.

Emerging Leadership Institute 2014 (ELI)

ELI is a two day workshop with emerging and established performing arts managers/leaders. It allows them to come together to explore leadership styles and philosophy in their respective arts organizations. It is linked to the APAP conference, allowing for an enhanced presence at the Conference – a great opportunity for Sal and Amrita.  This year there was a focus on dialogue in community engagement, involving artists, articulating the impact of your organization in your community, and more.

Association of Performing Arts Presenters Conference (APAP)

Following on from ELI, Sal attended the APAP Conference. APAP is the largest organization of arts presenters in the United States with more than 5000 members. Their annual conference is the world’s largest networking forum and marketplace for performing arts professionals. Arts professionals meet, network, talk, present their works and select works for their venues and festivals. This year’s conference had more than 3500 attendees from 34 countries. Sal had many meetings with presenters, producers, and managers, discussing potential projects.

International Society for the Performing Arts (ISPA)

The ISPA Congress is a global meeting of hundreds of arts presenters – 2014 saw over 400 delegates attending from a record 52 countries. ISPA offers the chance to network and have dialogue with potential collaborators. Issues in arts management were discussed through presentations and panel discussions including funding, partnerships and new models for working.

As part of Sal’s ISPA Fellowship he was not only funded to attend the Congress, but also receives a year’s membership to ISPA which opens up a host of personal and professional development opportunities. Amrita further benefits from this membership as our profile is featured in their online member directory, further introducing us and our work to over 400 arts professionals throughout the world.

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A Contemporary Dance Platform – Dr Sal Murgiyanto

Pak Sal Murgiyanto-3Dr Sal Murgiyanto is a dance critic and associate professor at the Graduate School, Jakarta Institute of the Arts. He trained in classical Javanese dance, performing with Sendratari Ramayana Prambanan (1962-72) and Sardono Dance Theatre (1969-74) before making the transition into dance writing, lecturing, and festival organizing. He received his Ph.D. in performance studies from New York University, USA in 1991. He is founder and was artistic board of the Indonesian Dance Festival (IDF, Jakarta 1992-2012), and advisor to the World Dance Alliance (WDA) Indonesia.

We asked him to share his thoughts on contemporary dance in Cambodia as part of the Contemporary Dance Platform earlier in the month…


By Sal Murgiyanto

I first visited Cambodia in 2004 to participate in the Mekong Project initiated/organized by the Asian Cultural Council. Since then, Amrita Performing Arts has become a close partner of Indonesian Dance Festival (IDF) in bringing young Cambodian dancers and choreographers to participate in various IDF programs. In 2004, Amrita sent three dance artists and administrator—Sam Sathya, Hun Pen and Suon Bun Rith—to observe the seventh IDF. Prior to the IDF proper, I urged them to observe IDF’s Choreography Workshop held in Surabaya, East Java. “I want you just to observe, but at any time if you feel like taking part in the workshop you are welcome to do so,” I told Hun Pen. When I went to Surabaya at the end of the workshop, I was so delighted to see that Hun Pen managed to choreograph a seven minute solo, her first contemporary work, inspired by the big bird Garuda, God Vishnu’s companion. Appreciating Hun Pen’s effort and achievement, I asked her to present the solo piece at the IDF’s main event to a mixed audience response. Some audience gave an appreciation some others thought it was not contemporary enough. To me this response was less important than the joy of seeing a young dancer break out off the hard shell that limited her creative freedom.

In the following IDF in 2006 Fred Frumberg, director of Amrita, came to IDF with Sopheap, a male dancer, to participate in IDF’s choreography workshop. Sopheap’s solo monkey piece impressed Jakarta’s audience. A few years later I was informed that Indonesian choreographer Miroto was invited to give a dance workshop in Phnom Penh. Still later, in 2009 in Taiwan, I saw a group of young Cambodian painters of Reyum performing with contemporary dancers-choreographers Eiko and Koma at TNUA campus in Taipei. Slowly but convincingly, contemporary dance has become a choice for young Cambodian.

In IDF, collaboration across cultures has become an important program. We strongly believe that by studying the culture of others we better understand our own culture and, in line with this belief, by collaborating and sharing one’s knowledge and bodily experience with artists from different cultural backgrounds, one will understand better one’s strength and weaknesses. In the dance world it is commonly executed through a collaborative work. In this respect, the creative process and the negotiations in making important decisions will become a valuable lesson for both sides. I fully understand that not all choreographers are open for collaboration. And I do not intend to say that every collaboration runs smoothly and beautifully. Often it goes the opposite way. But we don’t use it to reject collaboration across culture since there are many advantages that we can get from such collaboration. Below, I quote Casey Avaunt’s statement about her collaboration with a Chinese Opera dancer in Taipei, Taiwan:

During my time in Taiwan I have observed that live performances made the lines of demarcation between people of different cultures particularly ambiguous. The transient and supple nature of performances allows them to slip silently into the existing moment only later to disturb everything around those involved. Performances have the capability to exist unencumbered by logic and tradition. They have the potential to become a battlefield, a site for contesting conventional concepts established in the past and for the negotiation of discourses to be laid out in the future. A useful vehicle for accessing the deepest foundations of society, performances that cross borders provide a mechanism allowing for established concepts to be re-viewed and re-arranged. Performances that cross borders, through the integration and mixing of cultural components such as ideas, customs and languages end up becoming manifestations of real-life cross-cultural situations and have the potential to reflect border situations (Avaunt 2012)

Appreciating the above valuable experience, IDF has paid special attention to collaborative work. Among collaborative works presented in IDF was “Pichet Klunchuen and Myself” (2009) by Jerome Bell (France) and Pichet Klunchuen (Thailand). Ten years earlier (1999), IDF invited choreographer Wen Hui (People Republic of China) to collaborate with the late composer I Wayan Sadra and dancers from the Indonesia Institute of the Arts in Surakarta. In the same year, Kota Yamazaki (Japan) choreographed and performed “Garden” with dancers from the Jakarta Institute of the Arts.

In later years, I learned that Amrita Performing Arts has also actively been involved in organizing cross-cultural dance workshops. Last year for IDF XI/2012, Kang Rithisal brought a group of young Cambodian dancers to perform CRACK a collaborative work by Arco Renz featuring Chey Chankethya and other Cambodian dancers.

Recently, cross-cultural collaboration has become a trend. It is not a big surprise then when early this year Eko Supriyanto showed me a DVD of his collaborative work with Amrita’s dancers Para-Human (2012) which was commissioned by Singapore National Museum. It is worth to note, however, that in order to best play in a cultural interaction we must,

  1. Clearly understand the nature of cross-cultural interaction we are taking part and understand at what side we are standing: at the incoming side or at the local side.
  2. Be concerned about culture. We have to be clear from the beginning what we mean by culture. Do we look at culture as a pure commodity to serve the market or we understand culture as “meaning-maker.”
  3. Be aware that while borrowing the form and structure of global forums such as international festivals, we have to select the local content with dignity and creativity.

I am delighted to know that after creating a large body of work through close collaboration with numerous international collaborators, Amrita Performing Arts is now shifting its focus to develop Cambodian choreographers as is evident in the Contemporary Dance Platform. The same drive has been our main reason in organizing the Indonesian Dance Festival which has been going on for more than 20 years.

Yogyakarta, 27 October 2013

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A Contemporary Dance Platform – Peter Chin

On Saturday 2 November we present A Contemporary Dance Platform, featuring three works by three choreographers. Peter Chin, Artistic Director of Tribal Crackling Wind in Toronto, will present his work Ferocious Compassion. Here he shares his thoughts about the Platform:

photograph of PeterChinI think that this Amrita contemporary dance platform is very exciting, a vivid display of  Amrita’s effects on contemporary dance expression, and in general, how far contemporary dance has come in Cambodia. We all have so much to share, such accumulated information in our minds, hearts and bodies, after a decade of work together in contemporary dance, from very little at first in this country! It has been a life-changing opportunity for me to work in Cambodia for over 10 years, and the artists from Amrita have really affected my work in profound ways.

I am so happy to be a part of this, to share the stage with works from Belle and Narim, wonderful artists I admire. And of course, I am excited that a marvellous dancer such as Leak (Chy Ratana) will bring my piece, Ferocious Compassion to life.

He and I have worked on completing it in Toronto this past summer, after Leak danced earlier versions of it in Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur. I feel that what we have achieved so far is such a vast difference to the Leak of five or six years ago that started to work with me on various projects, still very new to contemporary dance. Exciting. Why have the dancers of Cambodia captured my heart? They have come such a long way in a short time. Amazing.

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A Contemporary Dance Platform – Belle’s diary

On Saturday 2 November we will hold a Contemporary Dance Platform at the Department of Performing Arts. This is a new phase for Amrita in nurturing and furthering Cambodian artist’s choreographic development. Through this platform, works by Cambodian choreographers will be created, developed and showcased alongside highlights from our ongoing international collaborations. More details here.

In this blog, Amrita dancer/choreographer Chumvan Sodhachivy (Belle) shares her thoughts on the development of the piece she is creating for the Dance Platform.

Choreographer Notes
Belle:       October 21, 2013

It’s been one full week and we have spent most of the time talking. We have talked about many things. In this one big room for rehearsal, we are all the ladies and we talk about our lives. Nita and Lina talked about the negative side of their lives, being the daughters continuously challenging their families and their cultures. There are things they would like to do but they can’t. I asked them why they chose to say a sad story, and they replied they really want to talk about it.

In my exchange with Bong Sal (Amrita’s Executive Director), we discussed about telling a negative story in a positive way and expressing something serious in a fun way. Examples like Hiroshi Koike’s tragi-comedy Mahabharata and Chung Yeun Soo’s Horizontal Life, in the part where the three men throw bottles and talk about years of practice before they could do it.

Nita has done a comparison in her mind about Narim (another Amrita dancer/choreographer) and myself as choreographer. She mentioned Narim’s active engagement of her dancers into the movements from Nita’s experience in The Shoes. It’s a good challenge for me and I tried to explain to her different choreographic approaches by different choreographers.

I was trying to talk to Bong Sal and Bong Bunny (Production Coordinator) about having a window, a real one, on stage, but this has been challenged by Bong Sal about the ideas of “symbolism” and “realism”. It does stir my thinking. This is what he said:

Dancing movements are so symbolic, inspired by stories and expressed in movements that audience will see it. They may understand it or not at all. It’s beautiful. Then it is a question when you want to bring a real window on stage. Like in classical dance, the dance bed represents palace, the riverside, sleeping bed, throne, stage for the fighting commander and anything. See? The idea of symbol was already there in classical dance. What do you want that you bring the real window on stage? You can do it of course. No one can stop you if you really have a reason for that and you want it that way. But the artistic choice should not be arbitrary.

I have about 10 more days to go. I ‘m not sure what this journey will lead me to. Let’s see!

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