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  • JUDY WOODRUFF: Now: bringing ancient traditions alive in a new light.

  • Artist Prumsodun Ok is taking a form of dance that dates back to performances solely for

  • royalty in Cambodia.

  • His Khmer dance company is transforming that classical style by using an all-male and openly

  • gay group to showcase the art to the public.

  • He now gives his Brief But Spectacular take on this unique tradition.

  • It's also part of our Canvas series.

  • PRUMSODUN OK, Dancer: So, when you look at Khmer classical dance, there are a lot of

  • curves in our art form.

  • So we actually train our hands.

  • We bend them back like this.

  • And we have four primary hand gestures that we use.

  • This is -- represents a tree.

  • That tree is going to grow and then it'll have leaves.

  • After it has leaves, it's going to have flowers.

  • And after it has flowers, it's going to have fruit.

  • That fruit is going to drop, and a new tree will grow.

  • And so in those four gestures are the cycle of life.

  • We use those four same gestures to illustrate sadness, love, anger, pain, joy, pride.

  • The art form was nearly destroyed in the 1970s, when the Khmer Rouge took over.

  • In a period of less than four years, 90 percent of Khmer dance artists lost their lives, during

  • a time in which an entire third of Cambodia's population perished through disease, overwork,

  • starvation, and execution.

  • My teacher's teachers were instrumental in reviving the art form from the ashes of war

  • and genocide.

  • When I think about, what is my role to this tradition that was nearly lost, I have a responsibility

  • to offer my fullest self, my realities as a gay man, someone born and raised in the

  • diaspora, in and of and between many different worlds.

  • I didn't go to Cambodia with the intention of starting Cambodia's first gay dance company.

  • I had plans to move to Mexico City.

  • Then I got a fellowship to work with all young male gay dancers.

  • And when I got to Cambodia, my friends, who are the leading dance artists in Cambodia,

  • they would say, Prum, can you stay here?

  • You know, the country needs you.

  • The art form needs you.

  • And I would say, no, because everywhere I looked around me, I saw so much sadness.

  • After a month-and-a-half of training these young men, I sat down and I watched them.

  • And I said, oh, my God, they look like a real company.

  • And, oh, my God, Cambodia's first gay dance company just formed in my living room.

  • To call the company, like, a gay dance company is a very brave and very forward thing.

  • Before I auditioned the dancers, I told them: I need brave people.

  • You are going to go on stage and you are going to represent a community that doesn't have

  • a voice oftentimes.

  • My name is Prumsodun Ok, and this is my Brief But Spectacular take on honoring your traditions.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF: And you can find additional Brief But Spectacular episodes on our Web

  • site, PBS.org/NewsHour/Brief.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Now: bringing ancient traditions alive in a new light.

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How Cambodia's 1st all-male, gay dance company is preserving tradition

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    林宜悉   に公開 2019 年 10 月 05 日
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