The Institut français du Cambodge (IFC) is set to celebrate the art of dance with its "Dance with Me" event, which is gliding across Phnom Penh from May 9 to June 26.

One highlight of this year's festival is a groundbreaking breakdance competition. The event offers Cambodian dancers the chance to win a cultural tour of Paris, France. 

The trip aligns with the upcoming 2024 Paris Olympics, where breaking, as the sport is known, will debut as a full-fledged event.

The Phnom Penh competition, slated for May 31 and June 1, promises to be a thrilling showcase of talent and athleticism. 

“It's open to all Cambodian B-Boys and B-Girls over 18, or those who have resided in Cambodia for more than five years,” according to the IFC.

Participants will battle through multiple rounds, with the top three performers earning impressive rewards.

The grand prize winner will receive a 10-day trip to Paris in the fall of 2024. The package includes round-trip flights, a nine-night hotel stay and participation in a dance workshop at France’s National Dance Centre. 

Additionally, the winner will tour famous cultural Paris dance sites like Opéra de Paris and Cent Quatre. The second and third prize winners will not go home empty-handed, securing a range of dance-related gifts and gift vouchers.

"Breakdancing will be the first dance sport to ever feature at the Olympic Games. We could think of no better way to celebrate this groundbreaking debut than by organising a competition in which the very best dancers will have the opportunity to visit Paris," said Valentin Rodriguez, IFC director and cultural attaché.

"They will also visit some the most famous places where dancing has been at the forefront of the stage for centuries," he told The Post.

Dance with Me is not just about competition, but also celebration and education. It is led by an exhibition on the history of dance in Cambodia, showcasing artefacts and photographs from archaeological digs and archives. 

“We will start with an exhibition dedicated to the history of dance in Cambodia, the unification of shapes, paintings and archaeological pieces of dance gestures,” explained the IFC.

Thanks to the archaeological excavations and archives of the French School of the Far East, the exhibition will feature an archive of photographs of Khmer classical and folk dances.

This season will be varied, with traditional dance performances by Princess Ream Norodom Bopha Devi, Khmer folk dances such as Koh Tralok, Chak Kreul, Trudi and Tonsong Kouprey, as well as solo contemporary dance performances.

One of the highlights will be an intriguing dialogue between traditional Khmer dance forms and the contemporary works of French artist Romain Bernini.

Bernini's work will feature intangible heritage dances, appearing and disappearing in a short period of time at regular or irregular intervals, and taking viewers on an unpredictable exploration of the realms of dance.

“Be it sport, ritual, tradition or new forms of expression, dancing is at the heart of many Cambodian cultural practices,” said Rodriguez.

“It just felt right to dedicate an entire cultural season to this emblematic art form and to showcase it and all its variations in any way we can,” he added.

The French Institute's garden is predicted to come alive with spontaneous performances, creating an atmosphere of artistic unpredictability.

Music, an integral part of dance, will be represented by singer Marie Vasconi and pianist Etienne Chenevrier, blending their talents to perform compositions by Fauré, Debussy, and Poulenc, under the direction of Ken Vanthy.

The festivities will conclude with a special event on June 21, during the Music Festival, where the breaking competition winners will perform to the beats of T-SIA, the official DJ of the 2024 Paris Olympics. 

This will also mark the unveiling of a photo exhibition featuring the competitors, capturing the spirit and motion of the contest.

Aspiring participants are encouraged to register by May 15 to secure their spot.