royal ballet of cambodia

Robam Tep Apsara (របាំទេពអប្សរា, lit., Dance of the Apsara Divinities) is the title of a Khmer classical dance created by the Royal Ballet of Cambodia in the mid-20th century under the patronage of Queen Sisowath Kossamak. The Apsara is played by a woman, sewn into tight-fitting traditional dress, whose graceful, sinuous gestures are codified to narrate classical myths or religious stories.

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NYPL’s Jerome Robbins Dance Division and the Center for Khmer Studies teamed up in 2008 for the Khmer Dance Project (KDP), which interviewed the three generations of artists - dancers, musicians and singers, as well as embroiderers and dressers - who kept dance alive despite the Khmer Rouge regime. Today, the KDP will be unveiled in Cambodia as part of UNESCO World Audiovisual Heritage Day. You can see interviews, full performances and rehearsals of the Royal Ballet of Cambodia, and more from the KDP through the Library’s Digital Collections here

The KDP video above shows some behind-the-scenes footage of costume and makeup preparations before a rehearsal of Sovannahong by the Royal Ballet of Cambodia in 2008. You can watch the full performance here