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Dancer's secret sadness

Dancer's secret sadness

S

ELF-TAUGHT dance queen Kannika Koy is extending her stay in her native Cambodia

to continue performing with the Royal Ballet.

Kannika was to have

returned to her adoptive country Australia this month but is now staying on

until January.

However the decision to stay on has left her with mixed

feelings. While she has relished appearing with the Royal troupe she confesses

that the poverty she finds around her is very depressing.

And Kannika,

28 is no stranger to poverty, as a young girl she lived under the Khmer Rouge

from 1973-9. She has however found it very hard to adapt back to life in

Cambodia having spent so long in the comparatively wealthy surroundings of

Perth.

She said: "I get depressed all the time and I don't want to go

out on the street. I even get somebody else to do my shopping for me now. I had

been expecting some poverty but I never thought it would be this

bad."

Kannika is especially upset by the number of people begging on the

street, including the disabled and children.

"I don't just give them

money, I try to take them to a street stall and buy them a meal so at least they

won't feel hungry for a few hours," she said.

Behind her sunny smile

Kannika has a steely determination to play her part in preserving Cambodia

culture which the Khmer Rouge systematically tried to wipe out during their

years in power.

Kannikar considers herself lucky because all her family

survived the Seventies, apart from an elder brother who went missing.

In

Australia she learned from scratch the slow and graceful moves of Cambodia

classical dance by spending five hours a day painstakingly copying them from

videotapes she obtained from the expats there.

She then began teaching

herself and returned here on a scholarship from the West Australian government's

Department of the Arts.

Kannika has been having daily lessons with Royal

Ballet teacher Sam Ol and plans to pass on the skills she has learned to

Cambodian expats and native Australians when she returns.

She says she

is throwing herself into her dancing and her work as a receptionist at the

Australian Embassy to help crowd out the images of poverty which have been

haunting her since she returned.

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