top of page

Urban Khmer Ballet Hosts Neakru Sophiline Cheam Shapiro in Lowell

Updated: May 9, 2023

Urban Khmer Ballet is a new initiative created by Angkor Dance Troupe Alumni, Chummeng Soun and Peter Veth. The mission primarily focuses on renegotiating a place for the diaspora in Cambodian performance art and dance.

The renegotiation of a place for diaspora in Cambodian dance poses the question – what might the future hold for Cambodia’s performing arts and culture in the diaspora?

In Lowell, MA, Cambodian performance arts is connected to the notion of protecting and safeguarding as a form of cultural preservation. Master teachers, local organizations, and local dance troupes within the perimeter of Lowell are laser-focused on cultural preservation, posing the question for many Cambodian performance artists today: What might the future hold? Finding themselves treading the balancing act between staying true to cultural heritage and their creative interpretation of bodily expression.

Embarking on this journey with Urban Khmer Ballet is Neakru Sophiline Cheam Shapiro, a choreographer known for her contemporary approach to choreography and dances; combining classical Cambodian gestures and body movements to express contemporary ideas. To answer this question, we invited Neakru to have a dialogue that is in response to her experiences as an artist that challenges the norms of Cambodian tradition to share with the next generation of cultural custodians in Lowell. Neakru Sophiline Cheam Shapiro has recently made headlines when she was kicked out of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, NY for praying to the statues of her Ancestral Gods.

To celebrate Asian-American and Pacific Islander Month, Urban Khmer Ballet is proud to announce that they will be hosting a series of celebrations that include a film screening, dialogue, dance demonstration, writing, dance performance, and writing workshops that encompasses the question regarding: what might the future hold for Cambodia’s performing arts and culture in the diaspora? The goal of this 5-day program is to experience, exercise, and express the ideas. Technical workshops and dialogue are tools to help the article respond to their ongoing questions.

Programming is currently free to the public:

May 16th: Meet and greet from 5:00pm-7:00pm May 17th: Season of Migration 6:30pm-9:00pm May 18th: Dance Rehearsal 5:00pm-7:00pm

All programs will take place at:

Richard K. and Nancy L. Donahue Family Academic Arts Center

240 Central St. Lowell, MA 01852

The following Zoom Link is available for guests who wish to attend virutally:

RSVP for all workshops:


bottom of page