Photo Friday: Khmer Dance School

Khmer dance school in Phnom Penh Cambodia
Khmer dance school in Phnom Penh Cambodia

When the Khmer Rouge controlled Cambodia from 1975 to 1979, the toll wasn't limited to the estimated 1.5 million human lives lost, it was a whole culture. In an effort to return to a simplistic agrarian-based Communist society, the intellectual elite were specifically targeted for "re-education" or even death. Fine arts including weaving, metal work, music, and traditional dance were all but lost.

That's why it was so touching to visit this traditional Khmer dance school, founded by one of the last living traditional dance teachers. As the country rebuilds itself, there is lots of work to be done. Mines to be cleared, roads to be paved, factories and an economy to be rebuilt. But just as important is the education of the children - not just in reading, math, English and the technical skills that will carry Cambodia into the future, but also in the arts that were almost lost forever.

Related Links
Passports With Purpose - We're Building a School in Cambodia!
Apsara Dance: Traditional Khmer Dance-Drama and Dance-Drama Performances

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  1. Sarah V. on November 19, 2009 at 8:40 p.m.

    This is a wonderful example of why the arts are so important and *necessary.*

  2. Lucia on November 19, 2009 at 11:32 p.m.

    Very inspiring post and project. Very glad to see there are attempts to keep the traditional arts important for keeping the culture alive, the history, the connections between generations, and for healing and re-building. Thanks for sharing this and for organizing the fund raiser.

  3. Cate on November 20, 2009 at 6:12 a.m.

    A lot of work and dedication but the journey is worth every inch. I visited an arts centre in Siem Reap which worked on reviving its ceramics and pottery industry before the Khmer Rouge destroyed it.
    Thanks for sharing.

  4. Sharlene on November 20, 2009 at 8:51 a.m.

    It is so heartbreaking to see how a regime can destroy an entire culture. I hope that these children continue to pass down the dances they learn and help the traditions live once again.

  5. Lora on November 20, 2009 at 12:26 p.m.

    This is incredible. Thank you for the info on Passports with a Purpose. Its important that we link together and make a positive impact. Thank you for leading that effort.

  6. RennyBA's Terella on November 24, 2009 at 11:04 a.m.

    What a wonderful contribution to the theme as it is an important reminder of important things in life - and not to forget!