Conceived and Directed by Ong Keng Sen.
In collaboration with
Em Theay, Kim Bun Thom, Mann Kosal, Noorlinah Mohd, Sotho Kulikar, Thong Kim Ann and Yutaka Fukuoka (Yen)
Premiered at the International Festival of Arts & Ideas, Yale University, USA (27-30 June 2001)
"Bright red blood which covers the towns and plains of Kampuchea, our motherland, sublime blood of workers and peasants, sublime blood of revolutionary men and women fighters!"
- National anthem during Khmer Rouge bloodbath.
Based on Pol Pot's massacre of the royal court dancers of Cambodia, this documentary performance has played in USA, Berlin, Rotterdam, Vienna, Singapore, Phnom Penh, London, Stockholm, Oslo, Goteborg, Rome, Lyon, and Istanbul. The real life story of seventy-five year old Em Theay, master dancer of royal classical dance in Cambodia. This is a unique form of dance which has women cross-dressing in male roles. Em Theay has survived the scourge of the Khmer Rouge to live on, teaching her skills to the national troupe after the trauma. This story of dance passed through generations of mothers and daughters becomes all the more horrific when one learns that nine out of ten royal dancers, musicians, actors, playwrights, poets, artists were killed by Pol Pot in his fanatical attempt to set his country back to year zero.
Pol Pot's vision was to realise a peasant nation of self-reliant agricultural work brigades modelled on Mao's China. Reminiscent of Nazi Germany's genocide of Jews; technicians, teachers, monks or doctors were executed. Those who spoke French, English or who had studied abroad, were likewise liquidated. Simply having fair skin or wearing glasses was cause of execution.
Em Theay, often known as the tenth dancer - the one who survived, tells her story. Persecuted for being an artist, she never falters, a conscience, a memory of the gash which tore Cambodia apart after 25 years while Cambodia still waits for its war crimes trials to come to fruition.
International Festival of Arts & Ideas, New Haven, Connecticut, USA
27-30 June 2001
The Bank of China Warehouse (current premises of TheatreWorks / 72-13), Singapore
25-28 October 2001
In Transit, Haus der Kulturen der Welt (House of World Cultures), Berlin, Germany
31 May-2 June 2002
Schauspielhaus Wien, Vienna, Austria
23 April-17 May 2003
Rotterdam Schouwburg, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
10-11 September 2003
Singapore Season, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, UK
25-27 February 2005
Dansens Hus, Stockholm, Sweden
10-11 February 2006
Dansens Hus, Oslo, Norway
17-18 February 2006
Goteborg Dans & Teater Festival, Goteborg, Sweden
25-26 August 2006
Romaeuropa Festival, Rome, Italy
30 November-2 December 2007
Biennale de la Danse, Lyon, France
21-22 September 2008
iDANS 02, Istanbul, Turkey
14-15 May 2009
Victoria Arts Centre, Melbourne, Australia
15 - 18 September 2010