Keeping the Tradition of Apsara Alive

Sokea Kimleang, also known as Kon Ant, captivated the world with her recent enchanting Apsara performance to a snowy backdrop in New Zealand. She speaks to Kiripost about her determination to preserve the ancient Cambodian artform
Sokea Kimleang, also known as Kon Ant
Sokea Kimleang, also known as Kon Ant

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Music is fundamental to Cambodian culture. It is performed, recorded and listened to by all walks of life. From kids taking part in activities and people in the workplace, to men and women courting, music forms part of the numerous festivities and celebrations held in Buddhist temples countrywide throughout the year.

Sokea Kimleang​​, also called Kon Ant, 23, was born in Phnom Penh. She spent 10 years adorning ornate Apsara costumes, showcasing the essence of ancestral Khmer art because she has harboured a passion since a child and wanted to promote the spirit of her nation. Now, she has risen to fame and works as an actress, model, influencer, and online seller who imports products from abroad.

Speaking to Kiripost, Kimleang said that she graduated from the Secondary School of Fine Art as a professional traditional Khmer dancer and model. She also completed a Bachelor's degree in Business Management at the National University of Management (NUM). She said a conventional Cambodian traditional dancer always stands tall with cultural traditions and arts.

Sokea Kimleang, also known as Kon Ant
Sokea Kimleang, also known as Kon Ant

To get the latest news on Cambodia's business and tech, join Kiripost on Telegram.

Kimleang has also visited several countries to perform there, including Japan, France, Germany, Thailand, and Vietnam. She has also been to China many times when the Ministry of Commerce of Cambodia hosted events there.

Recently, the dancer returned from New Zealand, where she put on an impromptu performance to a stunning snowy backdrop to show Cambodian culture and art, especially Apsara dancing, to the world.

Kimleang added that now she has other work and performances abroad, she will ensure that those events will bring smiles to her nation, while captivating international audiences with the Khmer art form.

Since the video of Kimleang’s performance in New Zealand went viral, she said she is delighted that her work has not only won the hearts of Cambodians but those of people from across the world.

“I'm overjoyed to be able to express my incredible recollections that have become an internationally recognized activity on internet platforms, owing to the overwhelming encouragement shown by Cambodians,” she said.

She opined that Cambodian culture needs to be further conserved and disseminated by Cambodian people. Kimleang added that human resources are also key to keep the ancient art form alive. “I faced some challenges during training and learning, but they couldn't stop me because I have a strong commitment,” Kimleang added.

She decided to promote Apsara and traditional costume because she believes it is an essential part of Cambodian culture, adding that Cambodian trends are split by kingdoms and socioeconomic strata.

Kimleang is now encouraging all youth to learn art if they know their passion, whether it be Lakhon Khol, classical music, folk, modern, or other forms. She added they should not be deterred if they face challenges.

“We are tired when we learn, but we see how much benefits we get. This depends on how much we can improve because if we are skillful in our field, the opportunities will come.”

Kimleang added that she started to be successful in her career in 2018 after taking on the position of Angel of the Year. She performed at a lot of celebrations, both large and intimate. But, after building up a Facebook account with a huge amount of followers, she went quiet on social media.

Recently, she has started to be active again, and this year has started to create a new page, while being given the opportunity to be an Angel standard dancer for Siem Reap - and people remembered her.

She believes that a Cambodian artist is a key person in spreading information to the world about the nation’s treasured ancestry because when they see how amazing Cambodia is, they will come to visit. She said this will have a direct positive impact on the Kingdom’s tourism and economic sectors.

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