Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Traditional Khmer dance helps underprivileged girls

Traditional Khmer dance helps underprivileged girls

Vong Metrey
Vong Metrey (with students) dedicates her life to the conservation of traditional Khmer dance Pha Lina

Traditional Khmer dance helps underprivileged girls

Founded in 1998 by Vong Metrey and her husband, the Apsara Art Association has aimed to protect traditional Khmer dance while also providing a livelihood for young underprivileged women.

“Children who come to study at the Apsara Art Association are mostly girls. They are from families who love traditional Khmer art and culture but the majority of them are poor and can’t afford to pay for education,” said Metrey.

“[At Apsara Art Association] we provide the children with free education, and we also provide them with food, clothes, accommodation and transportation.”

Amid her own enthusiasm for the traditional arts Metry expressed worry about the decreasing number of children joining the school. For 2015 only 35 students signed up standing against the 100 students who joined the previous year.

To make more girls join Metry tries to set new incentives as she explained: ”We reduce training hours to leave more time for regular school and sometimes provide tuk-tuks for safe and comfortable transportation home but it doesn’t work.”

Unfortunately, Metry’s efforts remained fruitless so far.

Besides filling the role of the general manager and finding funds for the foundation Metrey, a lady of 60 years, also teaches traditional and popular dance to the girls.

Regardless her age and health her strongest desire is to pass on her unmatched experience and knowledge in Khmer dance. She said, “We want to see Khmer dance shine on the world stage now and in the future”.

As reason for the general decrease in interest students and parents told her that “it [took] too long to learn, and [earned] too little for each performance, so their hope in traditional dance [was] dampened.”

Ranging from three to nine years for the young girls to become a professional Khmer traditional dancer with little pay awaiting them upon graduation, according to Metry, the public sector needs to fund and protect the art form and bring it to the cultural heights of the Angkorian era.

For the time being however Apsara Art Association’s income relies on the donations of charitable organizations and local and foreign philanthropists. Another source are performances in and outside Phnom Penh, but that demands a full-time schedule and little pay that many girls find too tough: training in the mornings and shows in the evening from Monday to Saturday, all year long.

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