Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Japanese woman adds a twist to traditional dance



Japanese woman adds a twist to traditional dance

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Hitomi Yamanaka during performance of Khmer traditional dance. Photo supplied

Japanese woman adds a twist to traditional dance

Hitomi yamanaka's passion for Khmer culture is apparent as she sits down to a meal of local fare to discuss her study of traditional dance, dating back more than two decades.

“I like this kind of dance which is spiritually influential. When I was young, I had a lot of ailments [which required me to exercise]. This was when I was first drawn to Japanese dance,” she says.

Yamanaka first learned Khmer traditional dance techniques in 1997, before studying the history of dance at the Royal University of Fine Arts (RUFA).

The Tokyo native, who has moved to and fro from the Kingdom to Japan since 2003, introduced her new and innovative performance at her alma mater last week. She plans to embark on performance tours in Japan for two years.

“I have travelled between Japan and Cambodia five times to get more training, and prepare to teach and perform this dance in Japan,” she said.

Reflecting on what initially drew her to the Southeast Asian art form, Yamanaka claimed it gave her more than anything she could get from Japan or the West.

“I was mesmerised by Khmer traditional dance and love it because it has a sense of serenity to it, which made me feel as though I was meditating while dancing.”

After her debut performance at RUFA, Yamanaka will take the dance form back to her native Japan and perform it there in the run-up to the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

Yamanaka is sure that her dance would fit in well with other cultural performances taking place during the Games.

“The recent performance can be described as an opportunity for me to contribute to the celebration of the 65th anniversary of friendship and cooperation between Cambodia and Japan,” she says.

She added that the performance encompasses five types of Khmer dance as well as one new creation.

As if to underscore her dedication to cross-cultural exchange, Yamanaka even composed an original song for her performance which is a combination of Khmer and Japanese poems.

MOST VIEWED

  • Omicron patients can stay home: PM

    The Ministry of Health has issued a directive on the treatment of people who have tested positive for the highly transmissible Omicron coronavirus variant, following a suggestion from Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of January 21. The directive permits home quarantine for those who

  • Cambodia’s first ever anime festival kicks off Jan 22 at capital’s F3 centre

    Phnom Penh's first ever Anime Festival will bring together fans, artists, shops and other local businesses with ties to the Japanese animation style for cosplay competitions, online games, pop-up shops and more on January 22, with Friends Futures Factory (F3) hosting. F3 is a project that

  • Hun Sen gets 4th Covid shot, urges compatriots to follow

    Prime Minister Hun Sen and his wife Bun Rany on January 14 received their fourth dose of Covid-19 vaccine and called on compatriots to follow suit as the Omicron coronavirus variant continues to spread in the community. This marks the launch of Cambodia's fourth-dose vaccination campaign,

  • Fourth dose Covid booster drive jabs 43K in two days

    In the first two days of the fourth-dose Covid-19 vaccination campaign, more than 43,000 people volunteered to get the jabs, while over 4.6 million people have received a third shot. Health ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said that fourth-dose vaccinations, which began on January 14 exclusively with the Pfizer

  • Mr Pancake or M Crepe? Tasty by any title

    Crowds of people gather around a lone man with a mobile food cart every day at around 2pm in front of the Institut Francais du Cambodge to order what many say are the best crepes in Phnom Penh. To some – even to the man making

  • Singapore backs Cambodia's efforts on Myanmar

    Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong supports Cambodia in its efforts to seek a solution to the ongoing Myanmar crisis as the chair of ASEAN. Lee expressed his support during a meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen via videoconference on January 14, with the talks focused