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Following Mekhala's Jewels

Upcoming project supported by the Spunk Fund.


Mekhala's Jewel alludes to the jeweled ball that the goddess Moni Mekhala holds in a revered dance drama. The jewel, in this project’s case, represents the knowledge – the light – these dancers have received from their beloved teacher Chea Samy, who appears in many of my tapes, teaching the very dancers at the heart of this project. Chea Samy passed away in 1994. She was a star of the royal troupe in the early 20th century, known for portraying Moni Mekhala.


Six team members will travel to Cambodia in November 2023:

  • To bring the video documentation of Chea Samy as a teacher to life.

  • To document recollections of those who studied directly with Chea Samy, about what was important to them about that teacher-student relationship. What made a difference in their lives as dancers, and as future teachers?

  • To document recollections of the oldest dance teachers who appear in Toni’s videotapes, using the original footage as inspiration for stories and memories, with a focus on their experiences as students and as teachers, and as they interacted with Chea Samy.

  • To offer opportunities for younger generations of Khmer dancers to learn about seminal figures in 20th and 21st century Cambodian history; think about the teacher-student relationship more deeply, so that they understand the depth of that relationship as experienced by their elders, and make informed choices about how they engage with their current dance teachers, and how they teach, if they become teachers.

  • To train dancers in interviewing and documentation techniques.


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