Dance “The Shelters:” Construction Workers Making the Best of their Lives in Phnom Penh

A contemporary dancer performs a scene in the “The Shelters.” Photo: SilverBelle

As choreographer and dancer Chumvan Sodhachivy explained, “if we have the dream of having a warm, a happy home, we have to build it ourselves.”

She has seen people doing so even on the streets of Phnom Penh, trying to manage with the little they have, which she conveyed in her contemporary dance “The Shelters” that was presented on July 6 in Phnom Penh by her dance group SilverBelle.   

“Today we can see on the street homeless people…kids who travel from the provinces to the city to find a job...So many things happen…but they are resilient, working very hard to survive,” she said. “They earn little money to buy food.”

And yet, she said, “they have a unique happiness of their own with their families. They are sleeping on the street, but they can have a smile for their kids or their families. It depends on your heart, whether it’s open or close.”

During the performance, Sodhachivy explained, the focus is not on the music. Of course, there is a soundtrack of mixed sounds and a melody floating, but it is not a continuous piece of music, she said. And one way or the other, people in the audience are asked to take part. “I always try to include the audience in the dance,” she said.

Sodhachivy who was trained as a Khmer traditional dancer and holds a degree in choreography from the Royal University of Fine Arts, is one of the country’s foremost contemporary dancers who has performed extensively in Cambodia and overseas.  

The performance of “The Shelters” was held at the Factory Phnom Penh, on retail street F4FR.

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As Chumvan Sodhachivy said, they may be poor and on the street, but construction workers find ways to be a family. Photo: SilverBelle

As dancer and choreographer Chumvan Sodhachivy said, construction workers from the provinces have to cope with being away from home and earning little. Photo: SilverBelle

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