Mekong Cultural Hub

Rice in the Sunshine: discovering cultures through rice and the connection with land

Getting inspirations of shows related to rice and exploring the movements of traditional dance and contemporary dance, “Rice in the Sunshine” is a collaboration project between Symbodia (Taiwan), Phare Ponleu Selpak (Cambodia). The project brings dancers and cultural practitioners of the two countries together to discover their cultures through rice and the connection with the land. A sharing and exchange between the organisers, project’s participants and wider audience has been organised under the support of MCH Open Space platform on March 13th, 2022. 

The story of “Rice in the Sunshine” started in 2019 when Tasi-Rou met Kim to arrange a two day workshop on Cambodian traditional Apsara Dance with dancers from Phare Ponleu Selpak. The event opened up a five month exchange between dancers from Taiwan and Cambodia, which built up a bridge crossing the limit of travel ban. 

As a Guzheng player, musician Yi-Wei Yang was especially impressed by the way an Apsara dancer extended her fingers which is totally different to playing the Guzheng. The discovery inspires Yi-Wei on music creation which makes good use of different materials to create sounds such as stones, glass bottles and also rice, and also finds the new balance between elements from the two cultures and melts them to each other. 

For Yu-Shan Tasi, the dancer from Taiwan, to improvise base Apsara Dance without any rehearsal with other participants is a special experience. She found her body learns and feels like a growing plant when learning with Cambodian teachers during the workshop. “The workshop has changed the way I use my body movement,” Yu-Shan shared. 

Cambodian dancers are inspired by the new possibilities of combining traditional dance and contemporary dance and start to learn to feel the relation between body and camera, and how to express themselves in front of the camera, and create a new way to tell a story not merely by body movement but also by making good use of the technical equipment. 

The Open Space on March 13th became a platform for both creators and dancers to share their feelings and experiences of participating in the project. The instability of the internet and the barrier of languages are the biggest challenges they have encountered during the process. But they “enjoy the moment under the sunshine” and “let the rice guide” them to learn more about the common and differences between Taiwanese and Cambodian cultures. 

The exchange project can encourage us to learn from each other in a different way and might inspire each other to the next stage of creation. The process takes time but it’s so cherished for us to have the opportunity to understand ourselves and have a new image and new possibilities.” Those are what dancers have in their minds accumulated day by day during the exchanges.

The team expects to create an online photo exhibition and a video showcase which makes good use of the element of rice, and with the dance exchanges through the eagerness of learning from each other.

For more information please follow their website:
Read the reflection on the event in Chinese here.

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