Dancing Above the City

A DANCE with a little extra height is set to fly across the capital in a unique spectacular this February.

In a daring and unprecedented move, on a specially constructed dance-floor hovering 118 metre over downtown Phnom Penh, a dance performance will take place on a helipad atop the Canadia Tower, Cambodia’s second tallest skyscraper.

Munkul Lokey (Bliss) is renowned choreographer Sophiline Cheam Shapiro’s original Khmer classical ballet performed to composer John Zorn’s a cappella variations on the biblical Song of Songs.

The piece invokes romance, lyricism, spirituality and erotic passion. The choreography and music were commissioned in 2008 by the Guggenheim Museum’s Works and Process Series. Having premiered at the famous New York museum to great acclaim, the dance is performed by the Sophiline Arts Ensemble, with watercolour-like costumes especially designed by Cheam Shapiro to be shine under the moonlit sky.

Cheam Shapiro’s ground-breaking choreography is distinguished by its impeccable technique, its interdisciplinary collaboration, and its expansion of the Cambodian classical vocabulary to realise new works. Cheam Shapiro has choreographed her original works for some of Cambodia’s most technically proficient classical dancers and toured notable venues across four continents, including Amsterdam’s Muziektheater, Cambodia’s Les Nuits d’Angkor Festival, Beijing’s China Conservatory, Los Angeles’s Disney Concert Hall, Hong Kong Arts Festival, New York’s Joyce Theater and Vienna’s Schonbrunn Palace Theater.

The dancers of the 12-member Sophiline Arts Ensemble are known for developing and performing the original dances of Sophiline Cheam Shapiro, rarely seen works from the canon, and they self-choreographed pieces in traditional and experimental styles.

The music composer, MacArthur “Genius” Fellow, John Zorn is an American avant-garde composer, arranger, producer and multi-instrumentalist with hundreds of album credits as performer, composer, and producer across a variety of genres including jazz, rock, hardcore, classical, surf, metal, klezmer, soundtrack, ambient and improvised music. He incorporates diverse styles in his compositions, which he identifies as avant-garde or experimental.

Munkul Lokey (Bliss) takes place on Feb. 9, with 100 tickets available for $50, including food and soft drinks. They can be bought from Java Café, The 240 and Canadia Tower.