Stockholm | Cambodian dance exhibition
The Dance Museum (Dansmuseet) in Stockholm presents an exhibition of photography on dance in Cambodia - telling the story of how the tradition was nearly lost but is now being revived with a new generation of dancers.
ART CANNOT BE KILLED OFF – ALTHOUGH POL POT TRIED
a story in pictures about Cambodian dance by Anders Jirås
March 25 – May 8
The Khmer civilisation flourished in South-East Asia a thousand years ago and its legacy still shapes the region’s art and culture to this day. Aside from the architecture, Cambodian dance is now what visitors find most captivating, as the disciplines of dance, drama, shadow puppetry, folk dance and music merge into each other.
The civil war, Pol Pot and other calamities almost eradicated this dance. However, Cambodian culture is strong, with dance and music an expression of a cohesive power. With so little written down, passing on and preserving the dance as part of an oral tradition was problematic. With nine out of ten dancers from the Royal Palace killed during Pol Pot’s reign of terror in the 1970s, parts of the tradition were lost.
But not everything. Some dancers managed to survive and they had carefully concealed their knowledge, allowing the dance to be restored once more. Now, thirty years later, the few survivors are passing their knowledge on to a new generation of dancers. It is this transfer of tradition that Swedish photographer Anders Jirås, who lives in Phnom Penh, has captured in his study of a form of dance that managed to survive against all the odds. It seems that art cannot be killed off after all.