As Khmer New Year approaches, we observe the sounds of happiness and celebration – people play games, sing and dance. One traditional dance group comprised of young men and women are especially excited this year to perform the ‘Robam Trout’, a dance that chases the bad luck and misfortune of last year away.
The dance group is large and spreads across the entire Kingdom during the New Year. Each group belongs to the Association of Development of Khmer Civilisation, an organisation formed by Mr Lao San – the current Director – and Mr Kol Sarou – now the Sub-director of the Cultural Science Research Centre at Royal University of Fine Arts (RUFA).
According to Mr Ros Mony, the representative and group leader of the Robam Trout dance group, there are 17 members. Each member is uniquely talented in traditional Khmer dance after graduating from RUFA with a concentration in this specialty.
“We’ve been invited to perform the Robam Trout at the Prime Minister’s residence, the Office of the Council of Ministers, the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Interior, among other organisations,” Ros Mony said.
He added that this year, the group has the special honour of performing for the Royal Family.
To get this far with their talents, the Robam Trout dance group overcame myriad obstacles and challenges. Ros Mony reflected that the most difficult part of being a dancer in the group is working as a group during rehearsal.
He also noted the physical toll that performance takes on the dancers.
“We all perform and dance without shoes in a very hot space, and we’re very active in our dance, so we often get blisters after a rehearsal or performance is finished,” he said.
Regardless of the difficulties, the members of the Robam Trout dance group persevere in their efforts to achieve the very best and cultivate their talents as performers.
To keep their skills up, the dancers perform during other ceremonious events outside of the New Year – such as opening ceremonies for homes or businesses to bring prosperity and luck.
“In the future I will try to teach and let the young generation grow in the skill of Robam Trout in order to protect and save this kind of Khmer traditional dance forever,” he said.
“I suggest that everyone should know more about Robam Trout and hold our performances not only during Khmer New Year, but also at other sacred events.”