Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Bassac Children aim to preserve traditional arts

Bassac Children aim to preserve traditional arts

Bassac Children aim to preserve traditional arts

AT the beginning of March the Children of Bassac traditional Khmer dance troupe closed out the two-week National Drama and Arts Festival with an invitation-only performance at the National Museum in Phnom Penh.

The troupe is now performing for the public at the same venue, with the second of two shows scheduled for tonight at 7pm. The shows serve as a preview to the weekly performance season in November and December.

The Children of Bassac troupe was formed in 2003 by traditional theatre singer Ieng Sithol under the name Cultural Economic Association for Orphans and Poor Children. He renamed the group earlier this year to remind people of its origins in the Bassac community in Phnom Penh where the performers – a company of dancers aged 16 to 21 – still live and rehearse.

Ieng Sithol said he founded the group to provide poor and street children with the opportunity to learn traditional Khmer music and dance.

“Most of the children in the programme can sing, dance and play traditional instruments,” he said. “They can get some income doing this, but what’s more important is that it helps the children avoid lives of drug use, thievery and prostitution, which are not valuable activities in society.”

In 2005 the group joined with Cambodian Living Arts, increasing opportunities for the children to learn more skills and earn a bit more money. The Children of Bassac now perform at least three times a month at traditional festivals and weddings, and some of them have also performed abroad in places such as Britain and Japan.

One of the performers, 18-year-old Chamroeun Sopheak, even won a prize last year for the best female singer in the nationwide Song Heritage Competition, aired on the Cambodia Television Network.

Chamroeun Sopheak has studied with the Children of Bassac since she was 12 years old, and she is now a grade-11 student at the Royal University of Fine Arts.

“It is difficult to earn a living as a performer, but as art lovers it is better to use our talents to preserve the traditional arts and try our best to promote them,” she said.

Children of Bassac founder Ieng Sithol said the group is only a small part of the bigger effort to help poor children in Phnom Penh.

“We are only able to help about 10 or 20 percent of the children in the Bassac area who are susceptible to bad influences from society and their environment,” he said.

Ieng Sithol also revealed that he is uncertain about the future of the Children of Bassac.

“The children are growing, and they will eventually have their own families. I am thinking of how to help them grow stronger so they can continue to earn their living from the arts,” he said.

The Children of Bassac will perform at the National Museum tonight at 7pm. For more information, please call 012 650 229 or email [email protected].

MOST VIEWED

  • Ministry requests school opening

    The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport on Thursday said it would request a decision from Prime Minister Hun Sen to allow a small number of schools to reopen next month. Ministry spokesman Ros Soveacha said if the request is granted, higher-standard schools will reopen

  • Kingdom eyes India FTA, China deal set for August

    Cambodia is studying the possibility of establishing a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with India to open a new market with the second-largest regional economy. This comes as an FTA with China is scheduled to be signed next month while similar negotiations with South Korea

  • Judge lands in court after crashing into alleged thief

    Sen Sok district police on Thursday sent a Koh Kong Provincial Court judge to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on manslaughter charges after he crashed his car into a woman riding a motorbike on Wednesday, killing her. District police chief Hour Meng Vang told The

  • Gov’t to boost Siem Reap tourism

    The Ministry of Tourism released the results of an inter-ministerial committee meeting concerning Siem Reap province’s Tourism Development Master Plan for 2020-2035 on Wednesday, revealing the government’s plan to improve the overall tourist landscape there. The meeting was attended by Minister of Tourism

  • Residents ordered to remove structures on Phnom Penh’s canal

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng has ordered authorities to act against the perpetrators who built houses along the Luo 5 canal in Meanchey district. The municipal administration plans to create a committee to solve the matter. The order was given on Wednesday while Sreng led

  • ‘On the offensive’: Cambodia to load up on loans to stimulate economy

    As the dust settles on the economy, Cambodia comes to grips with what needs to be done to turn the economy around, starting with a big shopping list for credit ‘We are going on the offensive,” Vongsey Vissoth, Ministry of Economy and Finance permanent secretary

  • Government set to make up for cancelled April holiday

    The government is set to make up for a five-day Khmer New Year holiday late this month or early next month. The holiday was earlier cancelled due to the onset of Covid-19. The announcement is expected on Friday as the government is studying a range

  • Families told to register for cash handouts

    The government has called on poor families to apply to commune authorities for evaluation to receive financial support during the Covid-19 crisis. A $300 million budget has been planned for implementation within a year. Ministry of Economy and Finance secretary of state Vongsey Visoth said this

  • Crumbling prices, rent ruffle condo segment

    The prolonged decline in international arrivals to Cambodia intensified by renewed Covid-19 fears has driven down condominium sales prices and rental rates in Phnom Penh, a research report said. CBRE Cambodia, the local affiliate of US commercial real estate services and investment firm CBRE Group

  • Over $3M in traffic fines collected in two months

    Traffic police officers collected over $3 million in fines throughout the Kingdom during the past two months when officers strictly enforced the law in accordance with a May sub-decree, officials said. As incentives, law enforcement officers received between 200,000 and two million riel ($50 to $500) each. The figures