Khmeropédies I & II

sp11-WEB-Phuon-headshot-150Trained in classical Cambodian Khmer dance, choreographer Emmanuele Phuon has turned tradition upside down with her Khmeropédies. Specifically stripping the dance down to its bare essentials, she has shocked conservative audiences with her modern take on the ancient Asian art form. Customary Khmer dance which uses codified hand gestures to tell the stories of the Ramayana takes years of strict training. Phuon claims to have “taken the meaning out” of the gestures in her Khmeropédies while still making her audience aware of its difficulty. Rachel Stewart speaks with her about her dance and the concepts behind it.

Khmeropédies has been desribed by the Village Voice as "no eclectic hybrid, with arabesques and the like grafted onto Cambodian steps. Utilizing postmodern strategies, [Khmeropédies] enlightens us about the style, while investigating how private emotions and more relaxed contemporary customs might take it in new directions.”

Emmanuele Phuon is French-Cambodian and lives in Brussels, Belgium. She started her training with the Royal Ballet of Cambodia at age five. In 1975 she moved with her mother to Bangkok, where she lieved until age 16. At that time, she decided to become a dancer and left for Avignon, France, where she studied and graduated from the Conservatoire National de Danse in 1986.  In 1987, she went to New York City, where she performed with the Elisha Monte Dance Company from 1989 to 1994, and with the Baryshnikov White Oak Dance Project from 1995 to 2001. She has also worked with Martha Clarke, Joachim Schloemer and Meg Stuart, among others. Phuon is a 2009 Asian Cultural Council grantee and recently joined the company of Yvonne Rainer with her latest creation, Assisted Living: Good Sports 2.

 

Emmanuele Phuon talks about the concept of Khmeropedies



Emmanuele Phuon talks about traditional Cambodian Khmer dance



Emmanuele Phuon talks about the music in Khmeropedies




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