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
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.
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
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
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.
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.