Amanda answers Girard College student’s questions

Monday, February 21, 2011

Blog Categories: Latest News

Amanda and Tobin have been keeping themselves busy learning traditional Cambodian dance while teaching the Khmer Arts Ensemble some ballet and improvisational techniques. Amanda hasn’t forgotten her roots and she’s found the time to answer questions submitted to her by the students for Girard College. Here are some transcriptions of her interviews with some of the dancers of the Khmer Arts Ensemble.

For more information and to see the dancers you can check out the videos on her blog:

Question 1. How old were you (Khmer Arts Dancers) when you started training?
The average age that a Cambodian dancers begins training is between 8 and 10. The average age of a typical dancer is 23 or 24.

Question 2. Do the dancers have certain stretches they practice to achieve the extreme flexibility in the hands and feet that’s needed to perform traditional Cambodian dance?
Yes. Dancers put pressure on their finger tips and arch them back toward their wrist. They round the fingers back and work on arching the fingers separately to form a strong curve.

Question 3. What clothes do Cambodian dancers wear to practice?
Each dancer makes her own shirt. A form fitted piece with small, intricate buttons from top to bottom. The pants are made of 3 meters of fabric that are rolled and wrapped around the lower body. The fabric is tucked between the legs and made into shorts. Everything is held together with a decorative metal belt and all the fabrics used are bright and beautiful. (For pronunciations of these garments see Amanda’s blog)

Question 4. What is it like for traditional Cambodian dancers to learn western dance techniques?
(Translated from a Khmer Arts dancer) Western movement is completely different from the traditional dance everyone is used to. Khmer dance puts the movement on isolated body parts. Ballet and western dance use more of the body. It feels more physically demanding to try out a new technique. As a dancer you can understand the what’s being said and what the movement is, but it’s so hard to put these movements on the body. It’s hard to do something new when your training has been one constant practice and you’ve been doing it since you were 8.

Question 5. What languages do the dancers speak with each other.
For communication it’s Cambodian and English. For fun the dancers also speak Vietnamese, Thai and Chinese. Although no one can speak all these languages fluently, they like to make jokes and use word play in other languages.