On December 12, Charlotte and I attended a Cultural Performance event on the Sustainable Development Goals. I was interested to see how they would adapt traditional performance art to this subject matter.
Churning of the Ocean of Milk
The first cultural performance told the Hindu myth of Samudra Manthan. In this myth, Devas and Asuras are fighting. Then Vishnu appears and convinces them to work together to create the elixir of immortality.
The first performance ended with an Apsara gliding onto the stage and greeting Vishnu. The Devas and Asuras scattered as the Apsara began to dance for Vishnu, who then slowly left the stage as the Apsara’s dance took center stage.
The Apsara dancing was – no surprise – the performance that Charlotte enjoyed the most. She stood up and watched attentively.
It was a good contrast to see a professional Apsara dance the week after seeing the dance at Visal’s Wedding. Both were impressive to the uncultured eye but the attention to small details of articulation was clear in the professional performance. For example, note in the video how the primary Apsara’s elbow joint has a negative extension – it looks doublejointed – as she circles.
O’ Land of Cambodia
The Apsara dance ended with the other dancers leaving the stage and the primary dancer posing motionless at the back of the stage.
After a long moment, a performer came out and pretender to carve a wooden statue of the Apsara. This was a fun segway into the next performance as more village craftspeople came out and the Apsara slipped away.
Eventually the village leader came out as well and engaged in another traditional Khmer performance art – comedy! He cracked many hilariously overbearing jokes at the expense of the other villagers, the audience, and himself.
The villager leader eventually called the craftspeople together to dance the Kour Angre. This is a traditional harvest dance around two poles that are rhythmically clapped together.
I got to try the Pestle Dance in Southern Vietnam when I was on my University cross-cultural experience… It’s harder than it looks and – ouch – those poles hurt!
There was a verbal story telling segment on the sustainable development goals – another traditional performance art – but I didn’t get a video of it. It was nice to see traditional storytelling (and, of course, the comedy section) get their place on the stage.
SDGs Traditional Guitar Solo
The final cultural performance before the TED talk section (which despite the billing were just lectures) was a guitar solo on the sustainable development goals.
What we missed
The next two hours of presentations were, essentially, lectures on the SDGs and Charlotte was very hungry (this was over dinner time) so we left shortly after the guitar solo… This meant that we missed some of the best performances which we scheduled at the very end of the night (they had the best material at the start and end of the program!). The entire event was five hours long so I knew that Charlotte – after a full day at school – wouldn’t be up for attending the entire program.
- Fashion Show: We missed a fashion show.
- Bokator and Chhayam Drum: We missed a performance combining Cambodian boxing mixed with traditional drum music.
- Drama: We missed a performance on clean water, sanitation, planting one million trees, and going plastic free in Cambodia.
- Songs: We missed songs by the TBC, Small World Small Band, and the Mustache Band (!!!).
- The Princess: Most importantly from Charlotte’s perspective… We missed a performance by Princess Norodom Jenna.
Still, we had a good time attending the first third of the program. I hope that they continue to have similar performances.