Document(s): The Dancer and Cambodian History

“The Dancer and Cambodian History” is from the Document(s) series, a library of commentary on people and issues in the dance field. This repository of essays includes interviews by writers and thinkers on dance, as well as “dance discursions,” which offer opportunities for reflection on the field of dance commissioned by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.

Dance ethnologist and anthropologist Toni Shapiro-Phim traces the legacy of Cambodian dancer and teacher Pen Sokhuon against the backdrop of the historical and political changes that have taken place in Cambodia.

From the essay:

“Sokhuon’s centrality to Cambodia’s dance world stems in part from her continued technical prowess and expressive elegance. But it also reflects a broader truth: Cambodia’s tragic 20th-century history has had an enormous impact on the cultural life of the country, leaving alive perhaps only a tenth of the nation’s professional artists by the end of the 1970s. Teaching new generations of dancers under the daunting conditions of continued civil war and extreme poverty has resulted in the graduation of persevering, accomplished younger performers, some of whom have stayed in Cambodia and continued to dance, and many others of whom have left the arts for better-paying work, or left the country altogether. The wide impact of recent history on the lives of artists is brought into high relief when we trace the experiences of a prominent dancer such as Pen Sokhuon.”

Download the essay (PDF) >

Collaborators & Colleagues

Susanna Sloat is a writer, editor, and arts consultant in New York City who has written about a diverse range of dance.

Composer, improviser, and media artist Mike Bullock will join forces with Swedish composers and conceptual artists Leif Elggren, Carl Michael von Hausswolff, and Kent Tankred, and Philadelphia musicians such as Ian Fraser and Bhob Rainey, for a program of electronic music, performance, and installations, expanding Philadelphia’s connection to the international experimental music scene.

Tempesta di Mare performs two of its orchestral rediscoveries from the French high baroque: Jean-Philippe Rameau’s Les Fêtes de Polymnie, and Jean-Marie Leclair’s Scylla et Glaucus.

The Kimmel Center, Inc. presents the Philadelphia premiere of Holding It Down: The Veterans’ Dream Project, a multimedia work that illuminates the lived experiences of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Karina Muñiz is currently the political director of Mujeres Unidas y Activas, a grassroots organization of Latina immigrant women based in California.

Gottschild conducted research for her book chronicling the life of African American ballerina Joan Myers Brown.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Jenelle Porter is senior curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston. Prior to that, she curated at Artists Space in New York and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia.

During its run from September 18-21, the OutBeat Festival sparked conversation and was featured across numerous new outlets.

Grants & Grantees

Known for innovation, creativity, and preservation of African-American traditions in dance, Philadanco has been dancing in the Philadelphia community since 1970.

During a recent conversation at The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, our visiting scholar Kristy Edmunds asked Philip Bither about making curatorial choices that lead to dynamic artistic experiences for audiences.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Artistic director of Miro Dance Theater, Miller has shown her work in venues ranging from England’s Royal Opera House to New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art.

Grants & Grantees

A retrospective of selected dances by Trisha Brown, an internationally known leader of post-modernism and an enduring renegade whose work has rarely been seen in Philadelphia.