The Origins of the Khemera DanceTroupe
The Khemera Dance Troupewas founded in the spring of 2000. During its inception, the troupe consisted of eight individuals who wanted to do their part in preserving their cultural heritage. Appearing in sequined tiaras from a local costume shop and sashes made of glittery material found in nearby fabric stores, the troupe performed Robaim Choun Por (Blessing Dance) and Robaim Trolaok (Coconut Dance).
Since that time, the troupe’s directors have worked to provide costumes that resemble the ones used by the Royal Dance Troupe in Cambodia. By cutting and assembling materials that are locally available, the group has been able to produce approximately 90% of the headdresses worn during their performances.
The Khemera Dance Troupe had the honor to perform at the 2002 Winter Olympics hosted in Salt Lake City, Utah. Dressed in full costume, the troupe performed several dances for visitors from around the world. The repertoire at that time consisted of Robaim Choun Por, Robaim Poung Neary, Robaim Monosanchetana, and Robaim Veyakan.
In 2014, the group has also had the honor to perform alongside several international groups at the International Dance & Music Festival in Rexburg, Idaho. The line-up included performances from West Africa the incredible Rovesniki Dance Troupe from Russia.
In 2016, the group was also selected to perform during the Grand Opening of the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Theater in Salt Lake City.
The troupe has also been invited to perform numerous times at the following events:
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- Utah’s Living Traditions Festival
- Utah’s Asian Festival
- Sacred Music Evening hosted by the Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable
- Rock Springs International Day
- Bountiful Summerfest International
- UCCBT Cambodian New Year Festival in West Valley, Utah
- Wat Lao New Year Festival in Magna, Utah
- Festivals at Wat Dhammagunaram Buddhist Temple in Layton, Utah
- New Year and Kathin festivals at Wat Chaimongkol in Ogden, Utah
Today, the Khemera Dance troupe consists of approximately 20 performers working to preserve an art form that was nearly demolished during the reign of Pol Pot. With help from the Utah Arts Council and generous donations from various individuals and organizations, the troupe has been able to help revive the graceful movements that were once reserved for royalty nearly 2000 years ago.