Man about town: 23 August 2013

Man about town: 23 August 2013


Ravynn Karet-Coxen is one of Siem Reap’s most lovable – and busiest – eccentrics and, as the chair of the Nginn Karet Foundation for Cambodia, she’s constantly championing the cause of her delightful troupe of little dancers, who are dedicated to preserving the purity of traditional dance styles, not to mention preserving their virginity under her watchful and ever-vigilant eye.

And now the indomitable Ravynn has pulled off a biggie: a tour of the US by her Sacred Dancers of Angkor troupe, comprised of 30 dancers and musicians, aged from 12 to 19.

This will, of course, be the troupe’s international debut and is a culmination of about six years of training.

An email missive from Ravynn this week revealed, “For the first time a troupe of children from the heart of our cultural heritage is going to the US with the mission to bond and bridge the Cambodian American to the Motherland on the month of the Pchhum Ben.

“We will be travelling for just over one month from the east coast to the west coast, to Boston, New York, Washington and Los Angeles. We will be staying at the pagodas since the children are truly spiritual and they all have been ordained as monks and nuns last April for ten days and are still joining the meditation of the Observance Days (Thngai Sel) at the Banteay Drei Pagoda.

Ravyyn adds, “I know that you will be pleased that we are not only supported by His Majesty King Sihamoni, Princess Buppha Devi, UNESCO Phnom Penh and the government, but also by American congressmen.

“For the first time a Cambodian troupe is invited to visit and do a workshop with prestigious and renowned American institutions such as the Boston Ballet, The National Dance Institution, Washington Ballet and Los Angles Ballet. Also we will be performing at such distinguished venues as The Asia Society in New York, The Smithsonian’s and THEARC Theatre in Washington, The Colburn Zipper Hall in Los Angeles and the Martha B. Knoebel Dance Theatre in Long Beach.

“It is so wonderful for such humble background children to achieve this by their sheer dedication and passion for their culture and the dance and music. All our compatriots should be proud to know that the children of the Borameis of the land of Angkor are going on such an exciting journey of their life time from the shadow of their temples and nature, making the sculptures of the bas reliefs come alive.”

The tour will be in Lowell-Boston from September 16-23; in New York from September 24; in Washington from October 1-10; and in Long Beach from October 10-23.

In an official press release, Princess Buppha Devi, the Cambodian Royal Ballet’s former prima ballerina and patron of the Nginn Karet Foundation for Cambodia is quoted as saying, “These children are inspired by the truth of who they are: children of Angkor. They were born to walk in the footsteps of our greatest ancestors.”

The press release adds, “Performing rare classical, folk and centuries-old sacred dances and music, this will be a unique opportunity for American audiences to experience the revival of an exquisite and beautiful tradition that was almost wiped out by the Khmer Rouge.

“The dances are part of the sustainable rural development work undertaken by the charity Nginn Karet Foundation for Cambodia, which set up a performing arts school catering exclusively for children from the rural communities within the World Heritage site of Angkor.

“The Sacred Dancers of Angkor is the only dance troupe able to perform ancient sacred rituals at the re-dedication of Cambodia’s oldest temples, from Angkor to Bayon to Preah Vihear and as far as Wat Phu in Laos.”


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