Royal Cambodian Ballet


Royal Cambodian Ballet
on Tour

The creation Metamorphosis is dedicated to the extraordinary encounter of Rodin with the aesthetics of Khmer dance, which he discovered on the occasion of the official visit to France by King Sisowath of Cambodia in 1906.


Rodin was immediately fired by a passion and enthusiasm for the aesthetics of this art and the purity and grace of its expressions. He left everything suddenly to follow the dancers of the royal ballet to Marseille, from where they would embark on their return to Cambodia.


“They (the dancers) made the antique live in me (…)  I am a man who has devoted all his life to the study of nature, and whose constant admiration has been for the works of antiquity:  Imagine, then, my reaction to such a complete show that restored the antique by unveiling its mystery”.


This encounter came as such a shock to Rodin that he immediately started a first series of drawings. However, the dancers were expected elsewhere, and Rodin therefore dropped everything to follow them to Marseilles, not even taking with him the necessary paper and drawing material.  On arrival, he executed a series of studies of movements and female draperies that are considered to be among the leading lights of his art.


It was only later in his studio in Meudon, that he transcribed, transferred and recopied his dancers. The highlights in watercolour and gouache emphasise the gesture that interest him. Rodin used a very different palette of colours from that of the costumes worn by the dancers.


Rodin thought of an extension to his drawings of the cambodian by inserting them in the project of fresco on the theme of Paradise, commissioned for the deconsecrated seminary of Saint Suplice in Paris. He transcribed his dancers, enhancing them with muted colours, such as faded red, pale yellow ochre, greyish beige or pink. Could the Cambodian be used to illustrate the angels of paradise?


The ballet will dance the mythical story of "Psyche", a figure of the ancient tradition that inspired Rodin, and which he liked to compare to the ultimate beauty
of the Cambodian dancer, and then, in an apotheosis of colors, the ballet will offer to the Master a fresco of Paradise, the dancers giving body and life to the watercolors.



A few words about the Cambodian Ballet:


Renowned for its graceful hand gestures and stunning costumes, the Royal Ballet of Cambodia, also known as Khmer Classical Dance, has been closely associated with the Khmer court for over one thousand years. Performances would traditionally accompany royal ceremonies and observances such as coronations, marriages, funerals or Khmer holidays.


Infused with a sacred and symbolic role, the dance embodies the traditional values of refinement, respect and spirituality.The gestures and poses, mastered by the dancers only after years of intensive training, evoke the gamut of human emotions, from fear and rage to love and joy.


The Royal Ballet practically ceased to exist under the repressive rule of the Khmer Rouge, who eliminated almost all master dancers and musicians. Immediately after Pol Pot’s defeat in 1979, dance troupes re-emerged and performances of the ancient repertory resumed. The ballet has regained its former splendour under the artistic direction of Her Royal Highness the Princess Norodom Bhuppa Dévi, daughter of the King Sihanouk.



Cankarjev Dom - Ljubljana (SVN), Printemps des arts de Monte-Carlo (MCO), Salle Pleyel - Paris (FR), Cité de la musique - Paris (FR), Théâtre de Chateauvallon (FR), Le Volcan (FR), Bozar - Bruxelles (BE), Osterfestival - Innsbruck (AUT), etc...


With the support of the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts of Cambodia