In the realm of artistic expression, contemporary dance emerged in the mid-20th century, captivating global audiences with its unique fusion of traditional dance, innovative artistic techniques, and technical prowess harking back to ancient forms. This dynamic form of dance, birthed from the creative minds of choreographers, serves as an artistic medium for exploring and conveying societal concerns and issues.

Saker is an exquisite work of art by a visionary Cambodian artist that made its debut in 2022. With an artistic vision that seamlessly melds the traditional dance form of Reamker – a Cambodian epic poem based on the Sanskrit epic Ramayana, with contemporary art and the utilisation of modern digital projection techniques – this dance spectacle offers an unforgettable experience for audiences.

Nget Rady, the mastermind behind Sakerand an esteemed choreographer from the Royal University of Fine Arts, revealed his groundbreaking contemporary piece draws inspiration from the theme “Today’s actions are the rewards of tomorrow.” Furthermore, Sakerreceived esteemed recognition during the 2022 cultural season, organized by the Phnom Penh-based Cambodian Living Arts organisation.

Saker derives its name from the original Khmer word for “write.” Signifying the embodiment of Cambodian heritage, this fresh artistic endeavour serves as a profound bridge for the upcoming generation, affording them a unique opportunity to delve deeper into their artistic roots through meticulous analysis and practice.

Rady passionately shared his thoughts on the creation of this groundbreaking work, emphasizing its purpose of inspiring the next generation of choreographers and young dancers to focus on honing their techniques and mastering the foundations of their art form.

Undeniably, the scarcity of resources and experts poses a significant challenge in today’s world and will persist into the future. As Rady eloquently stated, “We aim to address this issue through the creation of new contemporary work.”

The innovative nature of Sakerextends beyond its captivating visuals. It actively encourages artists to immerse themselves in theatrical rehearsals, readings, and narratives, enabling them to gain a deeper understanding of the intricacies and nuances of their performances. For instance, in this particular work, instead of relying on a large ensemble, the artists skilfully portray the essence of the story pattern from Reamker using only four individuals over a span of 40 minutes. This approach not only showcases their versatility but also signifies the importance of constant exploration and embracing new techniques for artistic growth.

Rady’s ingenuity shines through as he seamlessly integrates new methodologies with the story process, incorporating sound effects, projected imagery, and experimental props. By reimagining the timeless tale of Khmer masked theatre, Lakhon Khol, he breathes new life into this ancient form, forging an exciting path forward. Naturally, such groundbreaking efforts require meticulous attention to detail and countless hours of rehearsal and refinement, often spanning months.

Performers pray before starting their ‘Saker’ dance. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Undoubtedly, the creative process behind Saker posed several challenges. From the artists adapting themselves to the unique characteristics of their respective roles to the conceptual amalgamation of various scenes, the creative team faced arduous tasks. Additionally, the incorporation of digital photography added another layer of complexity, pushing the boundaries of artistic innovation.

Now, as this remarkable work enters the world stage, Rady fervently seeks support from institutions to bring the show to life in a live performance. His aim is not only to preserve the rich heritage of Lakhon Khol but also to cultivate its development for generations to come.

Rady implores his fellow Cambodians to support, respect, and cherish this cultural art form, nurturing its growth and ensuring its enduring legacy. Furthermore, he extends a heartfelt invitation to the youth, urging them to embrace the opportunity to learn, analyse, and expand their horizons by engaging with this groundbreaking masterpiece.

It is heartening to witness the outpouring of support and collaboration which Saker has garnered from esteemed institutions and experts within the field. Cambodian Living Arts, the Royal University of Fine Arts, the Roof Dance team, and numerous professionals from the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts have all rallied behind this visionary work.

As the advent of Saker is celebrated and its bold exploration of contemporary dance unfolds, it is important to acknowledge the profound impact artistic pursuits can have on individuals. Artists possess a remarkable ability to transcend boundaries, igniting imaginations and provoking thought and introspection. Through the dedication and ingenuity of artists like Nget Rady, the artistic landscape continues to evolve, breathing new life into traditional forms while embracing the possibilities of the modern world.

The invitation to witness the splendor of Saker is wholeheartedly embraced, as it encapsulates the fusion of tradition and innovation. By supporting and valuing cultural art forms, the seeds of creativity are nurtured, paving the way for future generations to thrive. In joining together, homage is paid to the legacy of artistic heritage, for it is through these shared experiences that the power of artistic vision is truly understood.