Sok Nalys: My Body is Made for Dancing

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Sok Nalys performing as an Apsara Preah Karona in a Fondamentus Concert at Angkor Wat temple in 2013. Sovanna Kem

PHNOM PENH (Khmer Times) – When Sok Nalys was a little girl imitating the dancers she saw on the stage of the Chaktomuk Theater, she had no idea that one day she would be face to face with the King receiving top-of-the-line dance training. 
 
But her dream came true when she was selected to be one of the dancers trained by King Norodom Sihamoni.
 
The 21-year-old has been passionate about Khmer classical dance since her early childhood and she had no idea that she would be a royal ballet dancer.  
 
The Stepping Stones
 
When Ms. Nalys was around five years old, her parents could tell she had a knack for dancing. With a strong passion for Khmer art guiding her, Ms. Nalys made her way to the Secondary School of Fine Arts at age ten. She did both regular schooling and intense dance training. 
 
While learning and training at the School of Fine Arts, she dreamed of performing classical dance in front of the temples in Siem Reap province, where many of the dances she was learning originated. She also thought back to her earliest days and dreamed of performing for the royal family at the Chaktomuk Theater. 
 
With a steely resolve, she managed to graduate and earn National Baccalaureate II and Baccalaureate of Arts certificates in 2013. 
 
teachers to receive special training from His Majesty King Norodom Sihamoni and to perform in “Fondamentus” at a UNESCO-organized royal ceremony in Angkor Wat temple. 
 
The event was a success and earned praise from both local and international audiences. It was considered a masterpiece because it featured a mixture of classical dancing, ballet, and opera music led by the King. 
 
Ms. Nalys was nominated because she fit the profile of what the King was looking for: talented, tall, small arms and legs and a flexible body. 
 
When asked about the experience, she admitted that very few people have been given the chance to train under the King, so she had to work hard to validate his choice of her. 
 
“I almost could not believe it, and I was not sure whether I should be happy or nervous since I was afraid that I would not do well. Besides, I was the only young student selected from my school,” she said. 
 
She found that it was different from her previous performances because of the new music the King was using, which featured a mix of ballet music and violins. She was in charge of the “Apsara Preah Karona” role and it was all completely new to her.
 
“It required me to understand whole new concepts that were given by the King and I had to be more familiar with the new opera music including the violin,” she said. “The ballet dancing moves were the most difficult for me.”
 
After hours and days of special classes and rehearsals, she was able to perform outstandingly in front of hundreds of audiences, some of which had members of the royal family, foreigners, and high-ranking officers. 
 
The King lauded her performance and rewarded her with a gold medal of recognition for her work after the ceremony ended.  
 
Besides her remarkable performance with the King, she also has proudly presented Khmer traditional dancing on the international stage in Thailand, China and the Republic of Korea. 
 
On Stage Performance 
 
For someone her age, Ms. Nalys has an extraordinary amount of experience and has faced tough challenges on stages in Cambodia and abroad. 
 
“My personal technique before doing every performance is practicing again and again with other dancers and making sure I remember 100 percent of the dancing moves,” she said. “I have to put all of my feeling into every story and concentrate on the concept of each character so that I can dance emotionally and naturally.”
 
A good dancer is not only able to perform what they have practiced before heading on stage, but is also capable of dealing with obstacles during the performance. 
 
“I also used to experienced forgetfulness during the performances, therefore, I have to be flexible and take another pose to complete the missing part and make sure the audiences does not notice me. Nothing is perfect, but I try to avoid those mistakes,” she added. 
 
Having completed her childhood dream, she is working on her next dream of promoting Khmer culture throughout the world and someday becoming a teacher at RUFA so that she can pass her dancing knowledge on to the next generation.
 
She took a break from dancing classes for a year to focus on school, enrolling in the Institute of Foreign Languages and majoring in English Literature. 
 
Even during her break from performing, the little dancer inside of her could not rest, so she decided to attend the Royal University of Fine Arts to pursue her bachelor’s degree in Choreography the following year. 
 
Dream Came into Reality
 
Due to her outstanding dancing skills, she was fortunate enough to be selected by her teachers to receive special training from His Majesty King Norodom Sihamoni and to perform in “Fondamentus” at a UNESCO-organized royal ceremony in Angkor Wat temple. 
 
The event was a success and earned praise from both local and international audiences. It was considered a masterpiece because it featured a mixture of classical dancing, ballet, and opera music led by the King. 
 
Ms. Nalys was nominated because she fit the profile of what the King was looking for: talented, tall, small arms and legs and a flexible body. 
 
When asked about the experience, she admitted that very few people have been given the chance to train under the King, so she had to work hard to validate his choice of her. 
 
“I almost could not believe it, and I was not sure whether I should be happy or nervous since I was afraid that I would not do well. Besides, I was the only young student selected from my school,” she said. 
 
She found that it was different from her previous performances because of the new music the King was using, which featured a mix of ballet music and violins. She was in charge of the “Apsara Preah Karona” role and it was all completely new to her.
 
“It required me to understand whole new concepts that were given by the King and I had to be more familiar with the new opera music including the violin,” she said. “The ballet dancing moves were the most difficult for me.”
 
After hours and days of special classes and rehearsals, she was able to perform outstandingly in front of hundreds of audiences, some of which had members of the royal family, foreigners, and high-ranking officers. 
 
The King lauded her performance and rewarded her with a gold medal of recognition for her work after the ceremony ended.  
 
Besides her remarkable performance with the King, she also has proudly presented Khmer traditional dancing on the international stage in Thailand, China and the Republic of Korea. 
 
On Stage Performance 
 
For someone her age, Ms. Nalys has an extraordinary amount of experience and has faced tough challenges on stages in Cambodia and abroad. 
 
“My personal technique before doing every performance is practicing again and again with other dancers and making sure I remember 100 percent of the dancing moves,” she said. “I have to put all of my feeling into every story and concentrate on the concept of each character so that I can dance emotionally and naturally.”
 
A good dancer is not only able to perform what they have practiced before heading on stage, but is also capable of dealing with obstacles during the performance. 
 
“I also used to experienced forgetfulness during the performances, therefore, I have to be flexible and take another pose to complete the missing part and make sure the audiences does not notice me. Nothing is perfect, but I try to avoid those mistakes,” she added. 
 
Having completed her childhood dream, she is working on her next dream of promoting Khmer culture throughout the world and someday becoming a teacher at RUFA so that she can pass her dancing knowledge on to the next generation.
 

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