Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Youth harness the power of dance

Youth harness the power of dance

Youth harness the power of dance

120126_17

The role of the arts in effecting social and political change has long been recognised.

Nicky Sullivan/Phnom Penh Post
Kamuri Middleton leads a group of dancing kids in Siem Reap.

Whether it’s music, theatre, dance, writing, singing, poetry or any one of the myriad art forms, the power that creative expression gives to individuals, and from there to groups, can be formidable.

An Australian organisation plans to build on that power with a dance project that is being initiated with a tour of Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, Kampong Cham and Takeo province.

Mayibuye began in Melbourne, Australia in January, 2009. Since then, it has set up six performance troupes in Melbourne and South Africa.

“A lot of young people feel that they can’t talk about things or express themselves, and this is a great way of getting them to do that,” said Kamuri Middleton, a former professional dancer and one of the organisation’s founders.

The Cambodia tour kicked off with a special workshop at ABCs & Rice in Siem Reap, and will finish at Sorya, a school in Takeo that provides free education to 300 children.  

The school asked Mayibuye to help develop a more creative curriculum, to help their students express themselves and their own ideas.

“The project builds confidence through creative expression, and the kids feel really proud because people are cheering for them,” Middleton says. “They start to feel valued and part of the community.

“We never expected it to get so big, so quickly. In South Africa, young people just came to find a safe place at first.

“Now they’re community leaders and peer educators.

“They’re engaged in healthy behaviours, and other young people can see that.”

“Dancing just fills you with joy,” says Zoë Condliffe, the 21-year-old Melbourne woman who will lead the dance project in Takeo.

“It can inspire and motivate you, and I hope the communities we work with will find the same thing.”

Condliffe has spent the past year developing the project after winning a scholarship to the Melbourne School for Social Entrepreneurs.

Her work led to her being recognised by Melbourne newspaper The Age as one of the city’s most influential, inspiring and creative people of 2011.

Middleton founded Mayi-buyi with three of her colleagues when her own professional dancing career was brutally ended after she contracted legionnaire’s disease while on tour.

She says the determination that helped her become a dancer has helped her to build up the organisation.

“People didn’t believe we could do it in the beginning; we were so young.”

It seems they are the living, dancing embodiment of their own ideals.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

  • Breaking: PM says prominent human rights NGO ‘must close’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed the Interior Ministry to investigate the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and potentially close it “because they follow foreigners”, appearing to link the rights group to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party's purported “revolution”. The CNRP - the

  • Rainsy and Sokha ‘would already be dead’: PM

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday appeared to suggest he would have assassinated opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha had he known they were promising to “organise a new government” in the aftermath of the disputed 2013 national elections. In a clip from his speech

  • Massive ceremony at Angkor Wat will show ‘Cambodia not in anarchy’: PM

    Government officials, thousands of monks and Prime Minister Hun Sen himself will hold a massive prayer ceremony at Angkor Wat in early December to highlight the Kingdom’s continuing “peace, independence and political stability”, a spectacle observers said was designed to disguise the deterioration of

  • PM tells workers CNRP is to blame for any sanctions

    In a speech to workers yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen pinned the blame for any damage inflicted on Cambodia’s garment industry by potential economic sanctions squarely on the opposition party. “You must remember clearly that if the purchase orders are reduced, it is all