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Cambodian Cultural Exploration

The culture of Cambodia has had a rich and varied history dating back many centuries and has been heavily influenced by India. In turn, Cambodia greatly influenced Thailand, Laos and vice versa. Throughout Cambodia's long history, a major source of inspiration was from religion.

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1. Sovanna Phum

Sovanna Phum (meaning Golden Era) is an independent and self-financed Khmer association working at the forefront of performing arts in Cambodia. First established in 1994, real opportunities were offered for Cambodian artists to make a living through their art by organising performances, as well as nurturing, preserving and promoting the treasures of Cambodian culture through various projects.

Puppet show in Sovanna PhumShadow puppetry

Cambodia has a long and rich tradition of performing arts, which involves folk and classical dance, mask theatre, music, theatre, shadow puppetry and circus. After a long time of war and depression that almost decimated the arts in Cambodia, the performing art scene is finally going through a revival.

Today, Sovanna Phum has a dynamic network of 120 energetic professional artists, mainly graduates from The Royal University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh. Since the renovation of the open air stage in 2002, Sovanna Phum offers a theatre space that allows not only Cambodian people to re-discover their culture but also for foreigners to discover the rich diversity of Cambodian performing arts. We are also active in promoting intercultural exchanges by collaborating with artists from other countries.

traditional dance show in Phnom PenhTraditional dance show 

Experience a unique performance at Theatre every Friday and Saturday night at 7.30pm. Performances include shadow puppet theatre, classical Apsara dancing, folklore and mask dance, theatre, traditional music, circus as well as new creations. Special performances can be arranged for parties, conferences, birthdays or tour groups. In addition to the weekly performances, we offer a variety of dance, drum, and circus workshops every week. Private lessons on the ancient art of making leather shadow puppets are offered on request.

2. Phare, The Cambodian Circus

 Phare, The Cambodian CircusPhare, The Cambodian Circus

An astonishing immersion into Cambodian Modernity. Phare, The Cambodian Circus is the only venue in Cambodia featuring a daily theatrical circus show of international standard. Modern Cambodian tales are embodied by a new generation of talented artists trained in Battambang.

 Phare, The Cambodian CircusThe performances mix theatre, music, dance, acrobatics, juggling, aerial acts, or contortion

with an explosion of virtuosity and sensitivity

Modern Cambodian tales are embodied by a new generation of talented artists trained in Phare Ponleu Selpak Artistic and Social Center- Battambang. The performances mix theatre, music, dance, acrobatics, juggling, aerial acts, or contortion with an explosion of virtuosity and sensitivity and very strong Cambodian story and identiy. Performers transmit emotions and excitement, blowing away the audience by their integrity and power. Phare artists are graduates from Phare Ponleu Selpak's vocational training center in Battambang.

The performances mix theatre, music, dance, acrobatics, juggling, aerial acts, or contortion with an explosion of virtuosity and sensitivityPhare artists are graduates from Phare Ponleu Selpak's vocational training center in Battambang

Coming from vulnerable households they gained international recognition through their art practice. The Cambodian Circus is a tool to build the careers of Cambodian artists, to contribute in the reviving of the Cambodian art scenes and to sustain the artistic, educational and social programs of the association.

Daily performances. Show starts at 7h30 pm.

3. Champey Academy of Arts

Founded in 2013, Champey Academy of Arts is a non-profit school offering the youth of Phnom Penh free training in Cambodian traditional arts including dance, music, drawing and painting. Champey’s mission is to inspire young people to preserve, protect and promote their nation’s culture.

Champey Academy of ArtsDance students


Program of instruction: Students at Champey may choose from among three disciplines:

Dance: Dance students have the opportunity to study and master both classical and folkloric dances.

Music: Instruction is offered daily in the instruments of traditional Cambodian music. On Fridays and Saturdays, we also offer instruction in Chapey Dangveng, the Cambodia long necked, two stringed guitar which is commonly played to accompany a traditional style of story telling set to music.

music instruments class in Champey Academy of ArtsMusic instruments class in Champey Academy of Arts

Drawing and painting: Instruction is offered in both traditional Cambodian style painting and contemporary drawing and painting techniques.

Visitors are always welcome at Champey but groups, even small ones, are strongly advised to phone in advance for reservations as seating is limited and the space is often fully booked. Champey staff are always pleased and proud to explain to foreign guests the mission of the school and to share their knowledge of Cambodian traditional arts and culture.

There is a small souvenir shop on the premises offering a selection of unique, very high quality souvenir items, most of which are available only at Champey Academy. In addition, some of our students’ artwork – drawings and paintings – is offered for sale. The souvenir shop is operated by the Champey staff and most of the proceeds from sales in the shop are used to supplement the school’s operating expenses.