Peggy Piacenza

performing artist


A month-long cross-cultural dialogue and dancing surrounding classical and contemporary forms of dance with Cambodian and American artists.

Director: Peggy Piacenza

Residency & performances, November 2011, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Film documentary premiere, December 2012, Speakeasy Series, Velocity Dance Center, Seattle

In Spring 2011, Peggy Piacenza became the inaugural recipient of the Helen Gurley Brown Magic Grant, offered through Smith College. Her project brought together Cambodian and American artists in Cambodia for a month of cross-cultural dialogue and dancing surrounding classical and contemporary forms of dance, all of which culminated in an informal performance for the Cambodian community. In December 2012, a documentary film based on her time in Cambodia was premiered at Velocity Dance Center’s Speakeasy Series.

Studio photos: Lim Sokchalina. Performance photos: Anders Jirás

Artist Biographies:

Chumvan Sodhachivy (Belle) began training in Cambodian classical dance in 1994 focusing mainly on the male role of the all-female classical court form but is also proficient in Cambodian folk dance and shadow puppetry. Eager to develop her contemporary creative skills, Belle was accepted into Robert Wilson’s Watermill Center 2006 International Summer Arts Program. Since then, Belle has participated in numerous contemporary dance workshops around the world and has been a featured dancer in works by Emmanuèle Phuon, Arco Renz, Peter Chin and others which have toured internationally.

Chy Ratana (Leak) graduated from the Secondary School of Fine Arts with a Baccalaureate in 2000, specializing in the monkey role of the Lakhaon Kaol (Cambodian male masked dance) form and is currently pursuing his Bachelor degree in choreographic arts at the Royal University of Fine Arts, Phnom Penh. In 2006, Leak developed a strong interest in contemporary dance and since then has been a featured dancer in works by Emmanuèle Phuon, Peter Chin, Arco Renz and others which have toured internationally.

Gaelen Hanson has been creating dance, film and multi-media performance for 20 years. She was a founder and 12-year co-artistic director of Seattle-based dance theater company 33 Fainting Spells. The company's critically acclaimed work was presented at international performance venues including Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Dance Theater Workshop, ICA in London, and Kunstlerhaus Mousonturm in Frankfurt. She has also created numerous dance films including Measure which can be found on First Run Features’ Dance for Camera DVD and Your Lights Are Out Or Burning Badly which received a Certificate of Distinction for Original Choreography from The American Dance Festival.

Nam Narim comes from a long family line of esteemed Cambodian classical dancers. Narim began her classical training at the age of nine. She completed the Secondary School of Fine Arts in 2000 and received her BA in choreographic arts from the Royal University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh in 2004. She continued her studies at the Korean National University of Arts where she graduated in 2009 with a masters degree in choreography. She is currently a member of the Cambodian National Theatre troupe, Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts.

Peggy Piacenza (Project Director) is a 2010 graduate of the Ada Comstock Scholars program at Smith College. For most of her pre-college life she worked extensively in Seattle as a choreographer and performer touring both nationally and internationally. Peggy's work focuses on a wide spectrum of experience and draws from her explorations in improvisation, performance-related studies and inter-disciplinary collaborations.

Amelia Reeber dances, choreographs, teaches, and is a certified BodyTalk practitioner. What she finds interesting inside and outside of dancing is dreaming, the narrative and wisdom of the body, transformation, nature, and humor. Amelia has performed throughout the USA and internationally in Germany, France, Sweden, Finland, Australia, and Canada.

Khiev Sovannarith (Tonh) trained in the monkey role of the Lakhaon Kaol classical male masked dance form. Tonh graduated from the Secondary School of Fine Arts in 2000 and began to teach in 2001. He later returned to study for his BA degree which he obtained in July 2011. Besides teaching, Tonh often performs the role of Hanuman. Tonh has participated in a number of contemporary dance workshops in Cambodia and abroad and was featured in new works by Emmanuèle Phuon and Eko Supriyanto.

Amrita Performing Arts is an International NGO based in Phnom Penh, with US nonprofit status. Amrita is committed to creating Cambodian contemporary dance and theater, responding to the creative drive of a young generation of artists passionately dedicated to ushering their country’s ancient performing arts heritage into the future. Our work is developed through workshops based on intensive exchange and dialogue with international collaborators. All of our efforts emphasize capacity building as we assist in nurturing a new generation of Cambodian choreographers, directors and practitioners in all areas of arts management.