How Cambodian Dance Almost Died

Cambodia has a royal dance tradition that goes back centuries. But “in 1970, a coup sent Cambodian royalty into exile, and while the dance was still practiced in the palace, it became a part of the University of Fine Arts. When the Khmer Rouge took Phnom Penh in April 1975, the university was closed and all of Phnom Penh’s residents were forced to leave. From 1975 to 1979, former palace dancers went into hiding for fear that they would be executed for their association with royal traditions. The only dance and music allowed during that time were Maoist-style songs that celebrated the revolution.”