(Image description: A middle aged Cambodian woman is looking slightly towards the left. She is against a black background, with a black shirt, mostly concealed under a peachy-beige scarf wrap.)
Sophiline Cheam Shapiro/ (ឝភីរោ ជៀម សុភិលីន): Why she kicks ass
She is a groundbreaking choreographer, dancer, vocalist and educator whose challenging work has infused the venerable classical form with new ideas and energy.
She was one of the first students to learn from the masters of dance who had survived both the end of the court and the later violence of Pol Pot, who specially targeted artists.
Being among the first generation of classically trained Cambodian dancers to graduate from the School of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh, Sophiline devoted herself to master the complex and intricate gestures and movements of classical Cambodian dance.
Along with her husband, Sophiline launched the Khmer Arts Academy to teach a new generation of Cambodian-Americans the traditional art and culture of Cambodia.
In 1990 Shapiro did a classical Cambodian dance adaptation of Othello called SAMRITHECHAK (2000) (សម្រីតិចក់) where she used symbolism and metaphors to allude the Khmer Rouge of their guilt and denial of the crimes they committed on Cambodia.
Her choreography includes THE GLASS BOX (2002) and SEASONS OF MIGRATION (2005), which she has set on Cambodia’s finest performing artists and toured to three continents. Notable venues include Cal Performances, the Hong Kong Arts Festival, New York’s Joyce Theater and the Venice Biennale. PAMINA DEVI had its world premiere at the Schönbrunn Palace Theater as part of Vienna’s New Crowned Hope Festival (2006).
She has received numerous honors, including Asia 21, Creative Capital, Durfee, Guggenheim and Irvine Dance Fellowships, as well as the Nikkei Asia Prize for Culture.