dance class

Cambodian Dance Memory

I’m so happy that my mom unearthed this pic.

When I was young, I used to study Cambodian classical dance on the weekends. I didn’t fully appreciate how lucky I was to be under the tutelage of master Sophiline Cheam Shapiro. Every Saturday, she would tie me into my green kben and guide my hands and fingers to stretch farther, move slower. As hard as I tried, I could not move as slowly as my teacher.

Some of the older kids were better. And there seemed to be a marked difference between those of us who were still struggling and searching versus those who just “got it.” Something in their minds and bodies had clicked. It wasn’t pure movement; it was mind and attitude. Those who had “it” moved with a reverent gravity that I couldn’t understand. They seemed to be submerged in invisible water; as they moved, lowered, extended their arms, rocked their bodies back and forth, tapped their big toes on the ground sighing with intention, their limbs were met with liquid resistance. Two inches of movement felt like two miles, smooth, steady, and slow. I envied them.

Greek dance was completely different. I studied Greek dance during the weekdays. It was faster, footwork-fancy, focused on forward motion. Stretching didn’t matter. Core strength didn’t matter. Cardio stamina did.

These polar distinctions are how I used to categorize the two arts in my mind. Cambodian: slow, steady, detailed. Greek: fast, forward, broad. But in reality, both modes have their macros and micros. Both have their fasts, slows, boisterous, plaintive, and narrative moments. Not unlike most arts I can think of.

Anyway, just a random memory for #tbt