Chey Chankethya, as one of Cambodia’s top classical dancer, has had opportunities to perform nationally and internationally. Now that she has just finished her MFA program in UCLA on Fullbright scholarship and we are very proud of her. She is now in Angers, France as an Artistic Director on behalf of Amrita Performing Arts at WDA Global Summit 2014 and she is going to perform her piece My Mother and I which is choreographed, performed and sound designed by herself at the showcase program. This work exposes the legacies of classical Cambodian dance through a contemporary lens. The solo is propelled by virtuosic physical precision, theatrical gesture, and spoken word. It explores the relationships between three women (the choreographer, her mother, and her dance master) to create a dialogue on the tension between individualism and conformity in politically oppressive societies. Kethya’s work puts the medium of Cambodian dance in direct conversation with its audience as she poses questions about responsibility, lineage, and the future.
The piece reflects on the current Cambodian environment that is influenced so much by the past. Through syntax and somatic approach, it reveals the connection between now and the past. The piece syntax focuses mainly on utilizing Cambodian classical dance’s principle in a new frame. Since one of the main principles of Cambodian classical dance is narration, the choreographer structured the piece with narrative way but taking a non-lineage approach. In addition, on the somatic level, movements were invented based on Cambodian classical dance vocabularies. The incorporation between the existing dance form with different choreographic structures are mainly focused.
My Mother and I is an example of how traditional culture or the past influences the present and inspires the future. It is the result of an inventive traditional culture that aims to take the classical dance style to the next level. A promising future creates out of the conversation between past and present.
Photographer: Peter Pin/Season of Cambodia