Chey Chankethya graduated with a BA at the Royal University of Fine Arts in 2005. She has performed nationally and internationally for the Cambodian Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, such as ‘Millennium 2000’, and Angkor Wat Exposition in 2006. Her choreographic works, both classical and contemporary, include Dilemma (2002), Falling in Love (2003), Golden Deer (2004), Preah Khan Reach (2005) and Water and Thunder (2006). In 2006, she was awarded a Choreography Arts Management Fellowship at the University of California (UCLA). She teaches classical dance at the Secondary School of Fine Arts and is the leader of Trey Visay (Compass), a dance ensemble consisting of nine young Cambodian dancers.
Cambodian classical dance once served strictly religious and ritualistic purposes. When the Royal University of Fine Arts was re-established after the fall of the Khmer Rouge, the emphasis shifted to one of entertainment in a time of renewed hope and expectations. The surviving masters maintained the time honoured practices and programs were implemented to support their efforts. The struggle between the two worlds deepens with the increase of international tours, the influx of tourism, and young artists beginning to experiment in contemporary dance. This paper will look at how the approach to dance education in Cambodia needs to adapt to these changes while maintaining and honouring its traditional values and heritage.