Sunday, May 17, 2009

Phnom Penh-Hip Hop Festival Performance

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

The French Cultural Center (CCF), in collaboration with the Meta House will organize the “Phnom Penh-Hip Hop Festival”. The event will take place over two weeks from 16th to 24th May in Phnom Penh and it is hoped that it will raise the profile of the art form throughout the Kingdom of Cambodia.

Three renowned hip hop dancers from Europe, including French B-Boy Choreographer Sebastien Ramirez and German dancer, Niels Robitky alias “Storm” will be teaming up with Cambodian classical dance groups in what looks to be a fascinating fusion of ancient and modern, East and West. They will be working alongside 20 young Cambodian hip-hop dancers from the Tiny Toones Organization, a local NGO.

Nicolas Mesterharm, Co-organizer and Director of Meta House, said this will be the first time that CCF and Meta House have worked in collaboration, resulting in the Phnom Penh-Hip Hop Festival.

Nicolas said that the main purpose of the throw-down was to give Cambodian youth a platform for self expression and to establish links between Cambodian dancers and their counterparts across the world and to promote cross fertilization between apparently disparate dance styles.

“Hip Hop is phenomenally popular across the world and Cambodian youngsters have caught the Hip Hop craze after watching their favorite performers dance on Western entertainment shows. They like the style and are prepared to adapt it to meet local circumstances,” Nicolas told reporters during a press conference on May 5.

He said that to date, Cambodia has an established DJ and Hip Hop culture and its popularity is starting to spread, striking a chord with the youth psychographic. Nicolas hoped that somewhere in this Cambodian Hip Hop/Soul community, a dancer would arise capable of introducing a brand new dance flavor to the world straight out of Phnom Penh.

Nicolas said, according to schedule, the performances will take place at 7pm at the Chenla Theatre on 16th, 22nd and 23rd and at the CCF on 19th. May 24 will see the dancers perform at Wat Bottum Vatey. To support the events, there will be documentary projections on May 17 at Wat Phnom; May 19 at CCF; and on May 20-21 at the Meta House.

Concerning entry applications, Nicolas said that entry is free for all visitors. He added that according to projections, about 5,000 people are expected to pay a visit to one or more of the events.

Alain Arnaudet, Director of the French Cultural Centre (FCC), said that the event will strengthen friendship and partnership between Cambodian artists and foreign artists in future. He said that the event would also strengthen Cambodian hip hop dance skills in the crucible of competition, empower Cambodian artists and open Cambodian hip hop dancers to world influences.

“I hope that this hip hop festival will attract Cambodia’s youth and encourage them to stamp a Khmer identity on an art form that originated in African America. It started out as an alternative channel for self expression and I hope that the youth of Cambodia will seize the opportunity to use the channel to communicate their hopes and dreams,” he said during a separate interview with The Cambodia Weekly after the press conference.

Alain pointed out that this festival is just one of a range of events that will promote and develop the national culture.

Tuy Sobil, alias “KK” is the Founding Director of the Tiny Toons Organization. Speaking to the Cambodia Weekly after the press conference, he said his organization will be represented by his best crews. He also said he was excited and was looking forward to working with the Europeans.

“This is the first time for me to perform alongside well-known hip hop dancers from Europe,” Sobil said. “I hope that over the two weeks I will learn a lot and my hip hop style will get a polish.” ///



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