Lakhoan Khoal Khmer is a masked dance drama featuring male performers. The repertoire consists solely of material from Reamker, the Khmer mythological tales.
The choreography is similar to the royal ballet of Cambodia though not as refined and is performed along with a narrator and ensemble of traditional pinpeat Khmer instruments.
The art form was presented at the Achievement and Future event at Chaktomuk Hall in Phnom Penh on Sunday.
It was the fifth time the event had been staged. The volunteer Reeksai team put it together under the title “Life of Lakhoan Khoal Khmer”.
It included performance of different forms of Lakhoan Khoal Khmer from Kompong Thom, Svay Endet and Phnom Penh.
Reeksaid founder LorVuthy said he was happy to see about 500 people come to watch and support this art form. He said he had been criticised by team members for setting high ticket prices.
“The reason behind this high price is I want people to understand the value of Lakhoan Khoal,” he said.
“If they can pay such an amount of money, it embodies what they really like and still support their culture. However, if I compare it with the price of organising the whole event, this cost is
Event participant Chhe Dany, 22, said that she was really impressed that she could see the performance of Lakhoan Khoal from three regions.
Khmer people can adapt it to become unique to their region.
“I was fascinated with the theme of the event this time the Life of Lakhoan Khoal Khmer, and wanted to know the differences of these three regions”.
“The reason I joined this event was because I want to support all artists who try to preserve Khmer
Ms Dany said she thought the ticket price was reasonable because the event had more than 200 artists. She felt amazed at the number of artist compared with the previous event which had only a few artists on stage.
“Cambodians are always afraid of losing their cultural form, however, I would question whether they are clear about them,” she said.
“Yet, I want people and youths to understand first what is their culture and what they have. So then they will love and try to conserve any form they wish”.
Huot Lyhong, 20, one of the participants, said he joined the event because he understood the value of Lakhoan Khoal. By understanding the value, he started to love and wanted to preserve it.
“As I am an archeology student, it is really important to join in and learn about the abstract heritage inside the Lakhoan Khoal style”.
Mr Lyhong added that he felt pity for the artists, who could not earn a good income. They sacrificed their whole life to protect the traditional arts but sometime they were forced to give up because of the living conditions.
Youths’ participation was not enough to help the artists, he said.
The school curriculum should include the arts and let the artists be instructors.
If young people were always reactive, Khmer art forms would disappear dramatically. Young people had to learn it through it education.
When they love it they will try to support and preserve it, added Mr Lyhong.