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Reamker, danse avec les dieux

Stéphane Lebon’s film opens on an image of the river Mekong, immutable and calm, which flows through Cambodia. While this country’s recent history has been marked by the violence of the Khmer Rouge regime, its past dates back a thousand years. The ancestors of the Khmers settled in Angkor and built temples, the frescoes of which pass down to us today the founding story of Rama.


Reamker is the Khmer version of the Ramayana, the “bible” of Asia, a long epic poem of 24,000 verses written in Sanskrit between 1500 and 600 BC. It features five man-god-animal characters, whose adventures are narrated by the apsaras (Khmer classical female dancers) by means of an extremely codified dance in which each gesture has a meaning. A lexical choreography that has 4,500 gestures, with an initiation requiring several years’ apprenticeship inside the royal palace. “In 1975, the Khmers Rouges abolished this dance just like the rest of the Cambodian cultural heritage”, explains Pich Tum Krand, the current director of the national theatre. In 1979, when it was time to take stock, 90% of Cambodia’s artists had been massacred. We can only imagine the work required to rebuild all that had been destroyed.


Source : Fabienne Arvers

Reamker, danse avec les dieux

Artistic direction / Conception : Stéphane Lebon

Production / Coproduction of the video work : Bérangère Casanova, Equipage, théâtre national du Cambodge, festival international des francophonies en Limousin Participation : ministère de la culture (DMD, DAI), ministère de la coopération et du développement, France 3 Limousin-Poitou-Charentes

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