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Highlights of Cambodian New Year 2004, San Jose, Bay Area, N. California

EVENING PROGRAM: 5PM – MIDNIGHT
Masters of Ceremony: Miss. Monica and Dr. Steven M. Kas National Anthems
Mr. Kaine Lim, Chairperson Mr. Perom Uch – VP of CARA
Congressman Micheal M. Honda – His Message to Cambodian New Year
Robam Choun Por – Blessing DanceThis dance is performed at the official opening ceremony offering wishes to the audience. It is the dance of greetings and good wishes that describe the name of this dance. In this classical piece the lyrics and gestures describe the wishes of happiness. Flower petals are tossed gently from small golden trays as a way of blessing the audience and the event.
Poem Reading – by Ms. Sopheap Ngar
A poem “Sour-Sdey-Chhnam-Thmey”, meaning “Happy New Year”, written by Elder Bun Ho So. This poem was written in April 1979 right after he and his families came to the US. It is an Advising and a Wishing poem to all Khmer people who began their lives in America.
Robam Kan-Seng-Sneih – Magic Scarf Dancewas created in 1967 by the staff of the Fine Arts University of Phnom Phenh, Cambodia. This dance illustrates the tradition of the minority Khmer-Islam people.The ladies use the charm in their magic scarves to flirt with the men. The men are then under the influence of the love charm.
Robam Priep-San-Te-Pheap – White Doves of Peace DanceThe white dove or pigeon is a symbol of peace. Dancers are typically young children dressing in white bird costumes. They dance for peace in the world. The lyrics and the dancers movements narrate the call for peace in the world.
Robam Apsara – The Apsara DanceThis royal ballet was originally performed at the offering ceremonies and other palace celebrations during the Angkorian Era. In the 1950’s Cambodian Queen Sisowath Kossomak Nearyrath, King Sihanouk’s mother, was the inspiration behind the genesis of the Apsara dance.

The significance of this dance is the meaning behind every movement. Each gesture symbolizes something meaningful, such as love or peace. Arms crossed over the chest means very happy. The left arm stretches out behind while the right hand raises up at the chest with three fingers up and the index finger touching the thumb to depict the Naga, the great serpent that symbolizes the spirit of the Cambodian people.

The dance portrays Princess Mera, white Apsara, dancing in her garden. Her maidens, also Apsaras, who made flower garlands and flower sashes, join her. Their circular movements, poised motions, and lightness of their gestures, all symbolize their hovering between the heaven and earth.

Robam Meh-Am-Bao – Butterfly DanceThis dance is a classical piece originally choreographed by Queen Sisowath Kossamak Nearyrath. The dance portrays the male and female butterflies that flirt while flying and singing their mutual love.
Robam Preah Sothun – Prince Sothun Dancea classical royal court dance founded on a mythical story of Prince Sothun and Princess Keo Monorea. The huntsman points out to Preah Sothun the waterfall that is often visited by seven female angels from the heaven above.
Robam Koah-Ang-Reh – The Pestle DanceThis folk dance represents the happy time of Cambodian peasants after the harvest season. It is a tradition that right after harvest time peasants typically celebrate to thank the heaven for giving them their crops. The celebration is also to have fun after the hard work. Wood pestles are used to manually extract rice. For this dance, two long wood pestles are clapped together as the dance instruments. They first begin with the folk song describing the happiness of being born as Cambodian peasants.
Cambodian children born and raised in America typically have a hard time speaking and understanding the Cambodian language. As parents, we have an obligation to teach our children this language.
A classical song with lyrics from one of the dances called “Bopha Lokey” or “Flowers of the World”. This song, accompanied by Mr. Chheng Ang flute, is sung by a group of young girls: Leakena, Somalen, Angelina, Veronica, & Angel. Poem Reading – by Sambo Uch
A poem called “Chhor-Bab-Peik-Chass” meaning “Advising Poem” written by Mr. Vanthoun Buth. This poem is read by Sambo Uch. Sambo is currently a college student. He also attends a Saturday class to learn his Cambodian language.
A popular song called “Kramom Srok Sreh” or “Peasant girls”, sung by 7 years old Aimee Boun.
Short Play – Mak Thoeung SceneThis short scene illustrates a love story of Mak Thoeung. He was a peasant man, smart and kind. His beautiful new bride, Meuy Cheuy, was much younger than him. Both make a living by selling perfume and makeup materials. The first scene begins where Mak Thoeung and his bride are on their daily tour to market their merchandise. The second scene happens when Prince Pya Noy, who had spotted Meuy Cheuy at the market during his visit there, approaches her at the water pond while she tries to get water. He flirts with her and persuades her to fall in love with him. She asks him to excuse her because she is now a married woman.
Dancing with Live Band until Midnight
Performed by Sek Meas Band and Ms. Im Sreypeov