As a modern music video artist, Seyma feels deeply honored and happy to be involved in the planning of this year’s Youth Arts Festival. For her, working alongside masters, Cambodia’s diverse arts organizations, and international artists in helping to plan for this festival is a rare opportunity that she cherishes.
Working as co-artistic director for the festival, Seyma has learned an extraordinary amount about her own Cambodian arts traditions from the leading Khmer art masters themselves. Seyma believes that the Cambodian Youth Arts Festival 2010 is an important key for allowing the diversity of Khmer arts traditions to gain more national attention, as well as the interest of youth.
Furthermore, Seyma’s passion as an artist helping to bridge the gap between traditional and modern pop arts serves as an important vision that she brings to the this year’s festival planning.
By allowing youth to understand that modern and traditional arts are not opposed to each other, but instead can work in harmony, she believes that more youth will be attracted to their traditional artistic culture.
It’s difficult for Bobbie to believe that a little less than one year ago, she landed in Cambodia for the first time in my life. Arriving alone and speaking only a few words of basic Khmer, Bobbie nevertheless felt extreme excitement that she was finally in the place that I had read about and dreamed of for so long.
Since her early youth, Bobbie has always had a sense of profound respect and interest towards Khmer cultural traditions—particularly those relating to classical and folk dances.
With the support of a Fulbright scholarship, Bobbie was able to study Khmer language, learn about dance techniques and meanings from old and young teachers alike, and investigate how Khmer dance traditions have adapted to the influences of historical narratives, tourism, NGOs, and non-Khmer audiences. Bobbie seeks to understand how Khmer artists can fully reclaim the meanings and powers associated with their art forms while still using their artistic skills to make a livable wage.
Most importantly, however, Bobbie was able to begin a life of learning and exploration in Cambodia that she had only dreamed of previously. Collaborating with Cambodian Living Arts to help plan this festival is truly one of the main highlights of my experience this year as a scholar and artist.
For the both of us, this festival embodies many of the solutions that we believe are possible in helping to revive and strengthen traditional Khmer arts—or what we see as the creative energy representing the Khmer spirit. By exposing Khmer youth to the arts through innovative performances and opportunities for exchange, young people are in a position to begin to reclaim, revive and even redefine their traditions.
With the further inclusion of international artists and participants, the dialogue on Khmer traditional art forms is allowed to move beyond Cambodia’s borders. Since this year’s arts festival is the largest one to be organized by Cambodia Living Arts, both Bobbie and Seyma look forward to seeing the impact our efforts have on both Khmer and foreign students from all backgrounds.
All of our thanks go out to Cambodia Living Arts, as well as all other participating organizations, for allowing us to directly take part in the process of learning about, as well as helping to revive Cambodia’s traditional arts. Thank you for this special opportunity.