Hello moto? Dance troupe addresses road safety issue

The dance troupe rehearse MOTO MOTO in their Kampot studio at the end of last month
The dance troupe rehearse MOTO MOTO in their Kampot studio at the end of last month. CHLOE CANN

Hello moto? Dance troupe addresses road safety issue

A funeral procession mourns the death of a young man who wasn’t wearing a helmet on his moto. Scenes show him, before the crash, playing drinking games with friends and scrambling for the attention of a pretty local girl in a plum-coloured dress.

Fortunately, these sombre scenes are fabricated for the audience through dance and theatre, though they will probably strike a chord with many Cambodians.

The performance of the troupe’s newest piece, titled MOTO MOTO, took place at the Epic Arts Centre, Kampot.

Instead of listening to the beat, the dancers keep time by feeling the vibrations through the floor, explains Laura Evans, the arts program adviser at the NGO, after the show.

After all, six of the members are deaf. Ranging between 20-28-years-old, all the performers have a disability of some kind. They have graduated from the Epic Arts-run Inclusive Arts Course – the first of its kind in Cambodia – and they are, according to Anthony Evans, program development manager at Epic Arts, one if not the only “fully inclusive dance company in the whole of Southeast Asia”.

The theme of MOTO MOTO is road safety. Before the performance the audience is informed that around four people die every day as a result of a motorcycle related accident.

The decision to focus on road safety was based on a nasty accident witnessed by the team in February.

“On their last tour, on the way back, they saw two deaths in one go. Two guys [on motos], no helmets, hit lorries when overtaking. Their heads were basically caved in,” Anthony says.

The piece is a joint collaboration between British choreographer Rebecca Devitt, 30, and the team. Together they workshop ideas and the result is a performance that includes local cultural references and some classic dance moves, such as using white shirts to symbolise the funeral procession.

Dou Sokun (or Kun), 28, is one of the dancers. He is in a wheelchair, and says that collaboration has, at times, been difficult.

“At the beginning it was very hard because I only knew a little bit of sign language. But from day-to-day, by asking people and learning from them it became a bit easier. The way that I communicate with the team is not a big problem now.”

The previous ensemble tour did not focus on social issues – its purpose was simply to encourage people all over the country to “see ability, not disability” and create awareness. So what led to the change in artistic direction?

“We believe that the meaning of inclusiveness is to completely forget about disability,” Anthony says. “Some people go ‘this piece isn’t about disability?’ What’s inclusive about it is that some of them [the people on the course] are deaf and some of them are not disabled, not that it’s about disability.”

Anthony hopes this will be the first of many such tours in Cambodia, and adds that other issues already suggested by communities and NGOs include topics as diverse as acid attacks, landmines and sexual health – “don’t know how we’d do that one!” he says, laughing.

Epic Arts still needs some $5,000 to tour the production but believes the country is in desperate need of a road safety awakening. “These guys are ready for it and it seems like the rest of Cambodia is ready for it as well,” Anthony says.

To donate to Epic Art’s MOTO MOTO project visit: indiegogo.com/projects/epic-arts-moto-moto.

MOST VIEWED

  • Government hits back at threats to pull EBA, suspend UN seat

    The spokesman for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) has said the government is in no way concerned after the European Parliament gave it three months to reverse what it called the “systematic repression of the political opposition”. Ignoring the ultimatum could mean facing

  • Chinese influx pushing locals, Westerners out of Preah Sihanouk

    Some within the Kingdom’s tourism industry have speculated that the recent influx of Chinese visitors may hinder domestic tourism as the price of accommodations in the coastal city of Sihanoukville continues to rise. Preah Sihanouk province, which has become a hotbed for Chinese investment

  • Sar Kheng: Sokha requested security

    Interior Minister Sar Kheng on Sunday revealed the story behind the transfer of former opposition party leader Kem Sokha from Trapaing Phlong prison in Tbong Khmum province to his house in the capital. Speaking at the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) headquarters in Prey

  • ‘Dire consequences’ from sanctions, warns AmCham

    American businesspeople in Cambodia have warned that any sanction against the Kingdom would have “dire consequences” that could push Cambodia even further into the arms of China. In a letter to US senators and representatives dated Monday, the American Chamber of Commerce Cambodia (AmCham) said