Abstract

Abstract:

This article pays tribute to the late Princess Norodom Buppha Devi (1943–2109) who played a major role in preserving Khmer court dance after the Khmer Rouge genocide in Cambodia (1975–1979). By looking at some of the innovative choreographies, costumes and musical choices (especially dance dramas) she created, we point out that Khmer court dance is neither purely ritualistic nor rigid; there is room for innovations. Furthermore, we argue that the Princess had participated in modernizing traditional Khmer court dance throughout her life. To this end, we look closely at her signature role in the so-called "Apsara Dance," a role that catapulted her to fame and was captured as a celluloid apparition by the French filmmaker, Marcel Camus in his 1962 film, L'Oiseau de Paradis (The Bird of Paradise). We conclude by looking at the innovative elements she created for her last choreography, Metamorphoses. This work exemplifies how Khmer court dance can adapt to modern innovation, yet retain its traditional role as art and marker of cultural identity.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-2109
Print ISSN
0742-5457
Pages
pp. 311-327
Launched on MUSE
2020-10-13
Open Access
No
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