Lights and Shadows by the Cambodia Royal Ballet
Ballet Royal du Cambodge
To conclude the two-day event, at 8 pm on 10 May, there will be a performance entitled Lights and Shadows by the Cambodia Royal Ballet at the Teatro Malibran, hosted by the Fondazione Teatro La Fenice. Renowned for their particularly graceful movements and choreography, the Royal Ballet survived the recent tormented history of the country and has been reinvigorated thanks to the efforts of HRH Princess Norodom Buppha Devi, an ex-prima ballerina and former Cambodian Minister of Culture, currently the choreographer and director of the company. Produced for the Cité de la Musique in Paris (and due also to be staged at the Lisbon Opera house), Lights and Shadows is a recent creation of HRH Princess Buppha Devi. The title alludes to the presence on stage of shadow puppet theatre (a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage) in a previously untried combination involving forty-two artists (dancers, musicians and puppeteers). The performance narrates some significant episodes from the Hindu epic Ramayana, for centuries the fundamental reference text and code of conduct for many forms of theatre in Southeast Asia. In the book Dancing in Cambodia, Amitav Gosh mentions being with Onesta Carpenè at the first performance of the devastated and reconstructed national ballet company in Phnom Penh in 1980. This was just after the years of the Khmer Rouge, who had culpably banned all forms of traditional culture. Upholders of one of the most important dance traditions in the East, the Royal Ballet had already been admired in 1906 during King Sisowath’s first visit to Europe, acquiring almost legendary status in French exoticism. In 2004 the company was also included on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list.