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Songbird: Amara, Essence of Khmer Ballet

Art Direction & Photographer

“The birds migrate towards their familiar home, in search for solace and belonging, singing the songs of their travels to make it known to those who hear it. ‘They’re here. That noticeable tune. They’re coming.’” -Minao Tachibana

During my time in Phnom Penh, I witnessed my friends practice their asses off; musicians composing, and singers finetuning their vocals at The Red School.

I could hear the cry and song of the Khmer Diaspora at the Royal University of Fine Arts (RUFA) make their song heard; an old song for us (the Khmer Diaspora) but a new tune for the Khmers back in the motherland.

I still have a lot of photos to sift through, but I decided to work on Amara's set first. Never have I ever saw any dancer appreciate my creative lens as much as her; even with our limited communication barriers. She spoke with dance, elegance, and passion.

She is very soft-spoken, but when she dances on the court-you can definitely hear her thunderous song through her movements.


Main Photographer - Sokai Yoon

Grip - Jerry V.

Dancers - Amara, Estelle, & Lou

Grand Teachers - Neakru Kannika and Neakru Sathiya

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