Bright red blood which covers the towns and plains of Kampuchea, our motherland, sublime blood of workers and peasants, sublime blood of revolutionary men and women fighters! – national anthem during Khmer Rouge bloodbath
Based on Pol Pot’s massacre of the royal court dancers of Cambodia, this documentary performance has played in USA, Berlin, Rotterdam, Vienna, Singapore, Phnom Penh and London. It traces the real life story of seventy-five year old Em Theay, master dancer of royal classical dance in Cambodia. This is a unique form of dance which has women cross-dressing in male roles. Em Theay has survived the scourge of the Khmer Rouge to live on, teaching her skills to the national troupe after the trauma. This story of dance passed through generations of mothers and daughters becomes all the more horrific when one learns that nine out of ten royal dancers, musicians, actors, playwrights, poets and artists were killed by Pol Pot in his fanatical attempt to set his country back to year zero.
Pol Pot’s vision was to realise a peasant nation of self-reliant agricultural work brigades modelled on Mao’s China. Reminiscent of Nazi Germany’s genocide of Jews, technicians, teachers, monks and doctors were executed. Those who spoke French, English or who had studied abroad, were likewise liquidated. Simply having fair skin or wearing glasses was cause of execution. Em Theay – often known as the tenth dancer – the one who survived, tells her story. Persecuted for being an artist, she never falters – a conscience, a memory of the gash which tore Cambodia apart… after 25 years, Cambodia still waits for its war crimes trials to come to fruition.