Take part in the revival of the Khmer arts with a visit to a local performing circus troupe that offers an alternative lifestyle in the arts community for young Cambodians.
What to experience?
Phare Ponleu Selpak (“the brightness of art”) is famous for its circus and performance exploits. Since 2013, PPS opened a new circus in Siem Reap with daily performance of best performers.
In Battambang, the cradle of the troupe you can still see the amazing circus performances which are fun for the whole family (check the webste for schedule). Acts include fire juggling, acrobatics and clowns, as well as some dance performances. Daring, talented, warm and very funny, you will be charmed by the students of Phare Ponleu Selpak.
On week days staff will guide you (in French, English or Khmer) in a tour of the association, including a film on the history of the organisation, and an exhibition of paintings and sculptures a unique chance to see a different side of Cambodia.
While in Phnom Penh visit their newly opened Romeet art gallery, street 178, where current and former students will showcase their work and ideas. Workshops, training courses, and conferences are part of the project. Visit their website to get the programme. Don’t miss the annual International Circus Festival, “Tini Tinou”, held in Battambang and Phnom Penh.
*Private shows can be arranged on any other day.
How does it help?
Since its creation, Phare Ponleu Selpak’s priority has been the economic, social and cultural development of its neighbourhood. PPS originated in 1986 in Site 2 Refugee Camp on the Thai border with the idea that a creative association, using art and expression, would help young refugees overcome the trauma of war. This original idea was pursued after the refugees returned to their homeland, and PPS was formally founded in 1994.
PPS implements a global approach and their action is centred on artistic practice. Arts are used to foster expression, but also as a complete set of tools answering children’s needs: education, life skills, social skills and personal development. It allows the population to reclaim their cultural practices and to rebuild their identity healing the destructive effects of the Khmer rouge regime. It gives them a reason to hope for a better future and believe in themselves. PPS receives foreign artists and perform throughout Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia.
Three artistic schools form the core of PPS’ work: the school of Visual Arts, the school of Performing Arts, and the Music school. PPS’ Child Care Centre hosts 30 children facing dramatic social issues (child trafficking, domestic violence, abandonment, disease, extreme poverty, and street begging), while 46 more are supported while staying with their families. Furthermore, 150 children are welcomed daily in the leisure centre, and another 75 children a day have access to the library. PPS supports the public school (1,250 children) through teacher training and additional salaries in order to ensure free quality education for all. This proximity allows enriching exchanges with the art schools.
Marker indicates Battambang, not the exact location of PPS …