Earth in Flower: The Divine Mystery of the Cambodian Dance Drama

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DatAsia, 2007 - 514 pages
THE CAMBODIAN DANCE DRAMA Since the dawn of recorded history, Khmer royal families nurtured a dance style unique to their Asian kingdom. Spiritually, these graceful dancers embody the essence of the Khmer race, ritualistically effecting the mystical regeneration of their land. For more than a thousand years they ensured fertility, life and growth; the dancers truly were and always will be the realization of Cambodia's earth in flower.A POLITICAL TWIST OF FATE In 1970, a military coup deposed King Sihanouk; the state seized full responsibility for the ancient royal dance tradition. Even surrounded by war, and in the midst of a civil war, the newly formed Khmer Republic desperately sought to preserve this cultural treasure. In 1974, their Ministry of Culture engaged University of Hawaii researcher Paul Cravath to document the esoteric history of the Royal Cambodian Ballet.EXTRAORDINARY ACCESS Cravath arrived in Phnom Penh as an ever-tightening circle of war gripped the capital city. He became one of the only Westerners in history to gain access to archives, teachers and the royal dancers themselves. In earlier times, this privilege was unthinkable; the dancers were the king's personal property. Contact by anyone outside the royal household was forbidden, under penalty of death.LOST HISTORY REVEALED In April 1975 Phnom Penh fell to the Khmer Rouge, initiating one of the worst genocides in human history. Cravath, one of the last Westerners to leave, escaped with his research intact. After 10 years of preparation, he submitted his study as his doctoral thesis in 1985. Only a handful of scholars saw the document. More than two decades later, at the dawn of the Khmer Renaissance, this historic knowledge is available to the public for the first time as Earth in Flower.

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About the author (2007)

Dr. Paul Cravath is a scholar, teacher, actor and theatre director with extensive Asian research experience. He based his book, Earth in Flower, on primary research conducted in Cambodia and Thailand, followed by ten years of archival research in the US. Since 1986, Cravath has worked as Professor of Theatre at the University of Hawaii-LCC.

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