Culture and tradition go hand in hand, and a big part of that can be discovered through dance. The Cambodian Dancer: Sophany’s Gift of Hope by Darn Reicherter and Christy Hale is an inspiring story about how one girl kept her country’s dance alive.
We received a copy of The Cambodian Dancer from Tuttle Publishing recently and it’s been the basis of much talk and internet research for the children and I. This book is about the true story of Sophany Bay, a little girl who loved to dance in her home country of Cambodia.
She danced like the figures on the stone walls of the temples. Dancing gave her energy. She was such a great dancer that she even danced before the king of Cambodia. She taught other children to dance when she grew up…that is, until the Khmer Rouge took over Cambodia and banned dancing, as well as education and other important aspects of life.
After losing her family and spending many years in a refugee camp, she found herself in the USA, but feeling like only a shadow. She found that Cambodian children in the USA didn’t know about their culture, which was sad.
So, she remembered the dance she loved so much as a young girl that it was ingrained in her. She taught the children how to dance, and again she was filled with energy and no longer living in the shadows.
Sophany started her own school of dance and began to pass down Cambodian dance to the next generations once again.
More recently, Sophany testified against the Khmer Rouge leaders, who were convicted of their crimes.
This is a beautiful story about a courageous woman who was true to herself and her country. She had courage that most of us will never have to experience in order to survive. Although her own life changed beyond her control, she was able, later in her life, to once again able to help children learn to dance, learn about their culture, and learn to be happy and free.
Cambodian dancing is beautiful to watch, and Kallista tried to put together her own costume so that she could dance around the living room and feel the energy within her.
If you’re interested in having your own personal copy of The Cambodian Dancer: Sophany’s Gift of Hope, here are (affiliate) links to do so