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Royal Ballet celebrates 18th year of UNESCO intangible heritage status

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A Royal Ballet performance at the Angkor Wat temple in Siem Reap province in 2018. Heng Chivoan

Royal Ballet celebrates 18th year of UNESCO intangible heritage status

Prime Minister Hun Sen on November 7 celebrated the 18th anniversary of the inscription of the Royal Ballet of Cambodia on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, while the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts urged people to be more involved in promoting the national culture.

Renowned for its graceful hand gestures and stunning costumes, this ancient royal dance was inscribed on the UNESCO world heritage list on November 7, 2003, in Istanbul, Turkey.

“The Royal Ballet is a traditional Khmer dance in which skilful dancers use movement, gestures and emotions according to the evolution of the story, which is described by the lyrics of a group of singers. It’s accompanied by traditional music,” Hun Sen said.

Culture ministry secretary of state and spokesman Long Bunna Sireyvath told The Post on November 7 that the ministry organises an outreach event every year with the participation of classical dancers to introduce the traditional dance to the public.

However, it was not performed this year due to the prolonged Covid-19 pandemic, with the ministry just making a short video to share on social media to celebrate the event.

“Although [we] cannot say exactly when young Cambodians first participated in the protection of the national heritage, now we can tell that Cambodians, especially the youth, are more actively involved in preserving and promoting Khmer cultural art,” he said.

Bunna Sireyvath called on people, especially the youth, to understand the value of Cambodia’s cultural heritage and to prevent it from being lost for the next generation.

Sireyvath is concerned that the culture will be lost if it is not promoted, and this will affect the whole nation. He added that “once the culture is lost, the nation is also gone”.

“From one year to the next, we always call on young people to participate in the care, protection and promotion [of culture].

“It would be great if they can participate in activities. The participation is not just about any institution or individual for the culture, we need participation from everyone,” he said.


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