April 7, 2011

Me doing a pose for Chhouy Chai Chhma, a female dance. Different from the male form, the female form is more closed and smaller.

Me in a female costume for Chhouy Chai Chhma, with my Big Sister Sonjya. (Sorry this is the only picture I have from that day).


Neak Kru Charya and I in costume for the performance at the Getty. I am dressed as a male and she is dressed as a female.


  Hello everyone! Neak Kru Charya and I had our third workshop and  it was for five days in March. During the five days we polished Buong Suong Pream, the dance that I was taught in our previous workshops. I finally got the dance down and Neak Kru even told me that my form is much better than before. This made me feel so accomplished because I can tell that I’m making her proud because of myy progress and I am proud of myself! That weekend we had our performance for the Getty Museum for their Gods of Angkor Cambodian art display. I performed Buong Suong Pream and I’m pretty sure we did well because after the performance we got to go out and meet our audience and they had a lot of nice things to say. Neak Kru thanked me and told me I did well.

    During our workshop I was taught another dance called Chhouy Chai Chhma which is a female dance. With my apprenticeship I am supposed to learn and distinguish both the male and female roles. I would have to say that the female role is much easier than the male role. The form and the attitude is easier for me to adapt to because I am very feminine and I can understand how to be a girl better. Before she started teaching me the dance we did a litter prayer to the past teachers to ask permission for me to learn the dance and to ask for forgivness ahead of time for any mistakes that I will make. Cambodian classical dancing is very sacred and spiritual and we still practice these prayer traditions. I didn’t get to write about of first workshop, so I want to touch up on it a bit.

    Like I just mentioned Cambodian classical dance is very sacred and we still practice the prayers, so before I started learning from Neak Kru Charya, we did a little prayer and offering ceremony to become student and teacher. I had a plate of fruit with incense and i offered it to her to become her student and she said a little prayer to make it be known to the past teachers that I am her student. I felt that was a very intimate thing to do and that it was really official that I was her student. Anyway, the first workshop was very hard. My body had gotten so stiff and I just didn’t have the energy to train for a long time. The whole expererience was painful, but amazing at the same time.

    After I learned the dance, Chhouy Chai Chhma, I was able to perform it a few weeks later at Alpha Psi Rho’s benefit concert to raise money for the victims of the tsunami in Japan at San Diego State University. It was tough to dress myself without anyone who had experience with Cambodian dance costuming. Luckily I had my Big Sister Sonjya to help me. I just talked her through all of the sewing. This was a challenging day for me because I didn’t have Neak Kru to help me that day, but I feel like the performance went well and I was able to showcase what I’ve learned to help a good cause.

    I feel really good about my progress with this master/apprenticeship because with only two workshops later she was already saying these uplifting things. Our next workshop is coming up soon and I will be learning another dance called Preah Vorachun which is a male dance. I’m a little nervous about this piece because it is a very challenging role and I will be performing this for San Jose’s Cambodian new year celebration. That’s all for now. I can’t wait to update you about the next workshop!


<3 Mea Lath