Dance Explores Power of Body Language in Telling Stories

A man sits on stage wearing a tie, white shirt and jacket. Then, one woman in a short dress appears with another in an eccentric outfit wearing an orange wig, and takes away his clothes.

Left with only his Lycra shorts, he slowly gets up and expresses through dance all that he had not said or shown on his face during the puzzling encounter.

From left: Chy Ratana, Phon Chan Pisey and Than Chantha Kunny in
a scene from the contemporary dance ‘Body and Movement’. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily )

The scene is from tonight’s production of “Body and Movement.” The man on stage is contemporary Cambodian dancer Chy Ratana.

This intriguing new work presented tonight at the Institut Francais in Phnom Penh is about the power of using one’s body as a mode of expression, dancer and choreographer Noun Sovitou said on Wednesday.

“I want to show the audience that our body can tell many stories…can express all our feelings, all of our emotions,” he

said.

He achieves this even in a short scene that leaves one wondering about the behavior of the two women. One seems fascinated by Mr. Ratana’s shoes; the other deals with him in cavalier fashion.

“The dance’s concept focuses on contrast, differentiation…black and white, love and hate, good and evil, soft and hard; men and women,” Mr. Sovitou said.

It is also about the need to maintain balance among genders and religion, he added.

These themes are all tackled without undue darkness; the music, with its 21th-century edge, keeps the conversation it triggers current and accessible.

The 27-year-old choreographer and the dancers are part of the city’s contemporary dance company Amrita Performing Arts, all of whom first trained in Khmer classical dance forms. Some of the movements in this new work clearly show these roots.

Mr. Sovitou was a child when he began training, starting at the age of 10 to practice the rigorous movements of the male masked-dance lakhaon khaol. He graduated from the Royal University of Fine Arts in 2014 with a degree in choreography and directing.

Joining Amrita in the mid-2000s, he has performed in several countries.

Tonight’s dance was conceived for two men and two women, Mr. Sovitou said, “to demonstrate gender equality and balance.”

Body and Movement

When: 6:30 p.m. tonight

Where: Institut Francais, #218 Street 184

Tickets: $10, $5 for students

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