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Apsara Arts Association is an organization that teaches traditional Khmer dance and music to underprivileged children in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The organization houses a number of orphaned students as well. On several visits between 2003 and 2006, I have been impressed by the director and staff, the facilities in use, and of course - the children themselves.
Public performances, generally held every Saturday evening at 7:00, often include several components. The Bhrama Dance (Buong Suong) features a single traditional apsara dancer. The Wing Dance (Rabam Phlit) is one I often refer to as the Fan Dance due to the props employed. An elaborate masked play (Lakhon Khol) portrays the story of Reamker, the Khmer-language version of the Indian epic, the Ramayana. Other common segments include a whimsical Harvest Dance (Pramol Phal) and a Peacock Dance (Ka Ok Pailin). The performances are always wildly colorful, well choreographed, and enthusiastically delivered. They normally feature dancers of all ages, though I have seen one show exclusively featuring the school's older, more skilled dancers.
I have mixed in a few photographs of the children outside of public performances. STOP EXPLOITATION NOW! (SEN), one of the organizations I've worked with on trips to Southeast Asia, has been supporting Apsara Arts Association for some time. While SEN typically focuses on fighting exploitation in the region, the organization also provides basic needs support to women and children. Interested in supporting children like those depicted here or learning more about the organization's programs? Visit the STOP EXPLOITATION NOW! Web site.
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