Cambodian dance masters to hold workshops

The Angkor Dance Troupe Inc., masters of Cambodian dance, will hold two performance workshops in the Bates College Benjamin Mays Center Friday, Dec. 4, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. and from 6:45 to 7:45 p.m. The public is invited to participate free of charge, and those interested should register by calling 207-786-8215.

The troupe features three professors of dance at the University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The son of a master dance instructor, Say Seuar is recognized and respected internationally as one of the best performers of the “Monkey” dance role. His talents landed him the challenging “White Monkey” roles in Chambang Pel Yup (The Battle at Night) and Hanuman & Sovann Macha (White Monkey and Golden Mermaid) for the National Dance Company of Cambodia. Seuar also is versed in the traditional “Lakhon Khol,” a forceful, acrobatic form of dance drama nearly wiped out in the Khmer Rouge period of Cambodian history.

A fourth-generation dancer, Yom Peng was raised at the royal palace during the years prior to 1970 when Cambodia’s official classical dance troupe lived and performed there. Her specialties include the “Giant” role in Moni Mekhala-Ream Eyso, a fabled story of the origin of thunder and lightning and believed to be a means of asking the deities to bless Cambodia with rain. Peng has expertise in he postures, gestures, movements and costuming of all the classical roles.

Sophea Sek had lost several family members during the reign of Pol Pot when he joined the University of Fine Arts in 1979 at age 13. Sek was one of a handful of dancers chosen to teach and perform in three genres: classical, folk and the all-male masked dance. He also teaches a humorous, lighthearted mime-style dance, typically performed during intermissions and very appealing to young audience members.

The dance workshops are sponsored by the Bates College Multicultural Center.

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