In this edition of ‘A Day In The Life’ we are introduced to Kunthea, dance teacher at Mith Samlanh.
As a dancing teacher, Kunthea works incredibly hard! She is employed by the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts as an instructor in the provinces, so sometimes her mornings are spent working with them. At 1.30pm she arrives at Mith Samlanh to spend her afternoons working with their children, a job she has been doing for over five years. She teaches classes of 20 students at a time, both boys and girls. Kunthea’s expertise is in Khmer Traditional Dance; her favorites are the royalty dances such as the apsara dance or the blessing dance, often performed to showcase Cambodia’s rich cultural heritage.
The class begins with children sitting in a circle for the warm up which includes exercises such as bending back their fingers to form the correct pose. Traditional Khmer dance is composed of ‘Kbach Bath’: 4000 basic techniques and positions which form the vocabulary of the dance. Different postures show distinct emotions and actions; these are put together to create a story. The children practice the techniques they learn and combine them to form their own stories. Every three months the dance students perform in a quarterly show for staff, students and their parents. Kunthea spends a lot of time in the class working towards a specific dance for the children’s performance. Although the children find the 2 ½ hour class quite tiring, Kunthea says she never has enough time to teach them everything! Luckily she still has some energy at the end of the class as she goes on to teach for another NGO in the evenings!