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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Royal Ballet lines up Singapore dates

Royal Ballet lines up Singapore dates

C AMBODIA'S Royal Ballet Company has been invited to Singapore for two arts festivals in1995.

In January they will perform for four days at the Chingay Festival and in June at the Festival of Asian Performing Arts.

At a time when Cambodia is forging links with the outside world - the Council for the Development of Cambodia has launched an advertising campaign through McCann Erickson to create a new image of the country - the Royal Ballet is aiming to increase positive awareness internationally of Khmer culture.

The council is keen to promote Cambodian culture as well as business for foreign investment.

It is the first time Cambodian performers have been invited to Singapore.

Sally Ng, assistant director for the Arts Program at Singapore's National Arts Council (NAC), organizers of the June festival, said her country knows little about Cambodia or its culture.

"This will be a novelty for Singaporeans.

"We did not know about the dancers and we are looking forward to seeing them.

"We will sponsor the 32 dancers and musicians for their five-day visit," she said.

Chairman of the Singapore Festival Committee, Professor Tommy Koh, learned about the dancers through a local journalist, Julie Chatterjee, who had visited Cambodia.

Chaterjee was so enthusiastic that she persuaded Koh to invite the dancers.

"This makes our festival far more eclectic," she said.

In addition, the NAC has agreed to her suggestion of donating an honorarium of almost $1,000 towards the repair of the Bassac theater, which burned down in February.

The dancers will perform on a float in a street parade at the Chingay festival, which is a multi-cultural celebration of the Chinese New Year.

"The float might be a model of the Bayon," said Cambodia's Arts Minister Nouth Narang. "It has not been decided yet."

The dancers are being sponsored by Hiap Huat Holdings, one of the three shareholders of the parent company of the Hotel Sofitel Cambodiana.

Director Leslie Lek said they were contributing about $18,000 towards the float and Chingay's organizers, People' Association, will pay for their accommodation.

Airfares are being sponsored by SilkAir, part of Singapore's national airline.

"We will fly the 30 dancers and musicians to the festival at a 75 percent reduced fare," said Gopi Bala, SilkAir's manager in Phnom Penh. Hiap Huat Holdings will pay the balance.

Both festivals attract performers from all over the world and are part of the NAC's plans to promote the city state as an international arts center.

Nouth Narang said "It will provide an opportunity to reinforce links with Singapore."

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