A Journey to Cambodia in Singapore

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Last week I had the pleasure of attending Kalaa Utsavam, the Indian Arts Festival produced by Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay in Singapore.  Each year the festival showcases a huge variety of theatre, music, dance visual arts by Indian artists from around the world and Singapore too.   This year, the highlight of the festival was a brand new production called Angkor  – The Untold Story featuring Priydarsini Govind.

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I’d never seen a large-scale Indian dance production, and I was even more excited to see this one as it was created by our friends and partners Apsaras Arts and co-produced with Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay.

 

Angkor Wat is a place most of us have heard of or have dreamt of visiting one day.  I’ve always been really fascinated by it – what was the inspiration behind the building of the temple?  How did the Khmer people of Cambodia and the Indians come together to create what is still the largest religious monument in the world?   This dance production promised to take us back in time, and share the story of how the temple came to being.

What an incredible story it is.  The Artistic Director of the production, Aravinth Kumarasamy spent years researching and speaking to scholars to put the script and story in place.  He brought in an incredible group, 160 strong, of dancers from Cambodia, Sri Lanka, India and Singapore together with a full live orchestra, composers, choreographers, set designers, costumes designers and writers to tell a magical story woven around long forgotten events and people of the 12th century.

A post-show chat with cast member Anjana Anand.

A post-show chat with cast member Anjana Anand.

“Having been a part of Angkor, I have been lucky to see the coming together of music and dance and theatre in true international style.  A challenging venture, it heralds a new genre of presentation in Bharatanatyam.”   Anjana Anand, Featured Dancer & Choreographer (extracted from the programme notes of Angkor – An Untold Story)

The production is without a doubt a giant leap forward for the presentation of Indian classical dance.  While there is always a place for it, there is so much more beyond the soloist dancing in front of a black curtain.  India is a full of amazing history, temples, natural beauty and culture – why not explore those untold stories?  ‘Angkor – An Untold Story’ is an inspiration to both producers and artists.  Lovers of Indian art everywhere are craving to see more innovative, large-scale and breathtaking stories such as this.  We see this happening a lot in the West and the Far East – the Indian Arts deserve this now.

– Written by Archana Shastri, Head of Dance Development

Read more about Angkor on Apsaras Arts website.

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