I have recently choreographed a new piece called ‘Krama’

Krama is a new contemporary dance piece performed by Epic Encounters, a Cambodian dance group made up of performers with and without disabilities choreographed by Epic Arts dance tutor Kathryn Spence. The piece uses Cambodia’s national symbol, the krama to tell the complex story of a country and a culture torn apart during decades of political turmoil and unrest. It not only explores what this humble yet versatile checkered garment means to Cambodia and its people, but also how it is made. It looks at the rebuilding and remaking of Cambodia, and the bonds formed once the threads interlace.
Krama duet

Krama end unison

I looked at weaving as this is how kramas are made. “Weaving is a method of textile production in which two distinct sets of yarns or threads are interlaced at right angles to form a fabric or cloth.” (wikipedia). What I found so relevant was what Cambodia was left with after the civil war was two very distinct groups of people; the Khmer Rouge, who has been leading the genocide, and those who were left from the Genocide, the mass killings, those who had lost family members and been through such a great amount of unrest due to the Khmer Rouge reign. The two distinct sets of people then needed to work together to rebuilt the country to what it is today.

Even today, the current president of Cambodia was once a member of the Khmer Rouge. I question where that leaves the country now? However, ‘Krama’ the piece was about the beauty that has been created, the pleasure and the friendliness about those left in Cambodia now and how they work and live together in unison, forgetting the past and moving forward. I personally think this is beautiful. The ability to see the future and not dwell on the terrible past is so very admirable, even if sometimes it means things are not dealt with. Cambodia has so much to work on, but for now, lets appreciate the beauty of what these resilient people have managed to achieve.

Krama looks at Khmer boxing to symbolise the Khmer Rouge as this is a tradition that is still used today, with Kramas as costume.

It is essentially about the support that these two different groups of people now manage to give each other, and how with family and community, how these things have allowed the country to really move forward.

“We were left with a tangle of threads
Of loose ends
That we wove together
Into something beautiful”

‘Krama’ was recently performed here in Kampot at Epic Arts Showcase event, and also in Singapore at The Round Square conference.

The audience were extremely receptive to the new work and audiences of all ages seemed to enjoy and engage the work. Personally, as a choreographer this delights me. Contemporary dance for all ages can be difficult to achieve, however ‘Krama’ seems to have managed such a task.


I think one of the ways that this was achieved was by using live song at the beginning and spoken word at the end, which will always be translated into English, Khmer and Cambodian Sign Language (as some of the team are deaf).

‘Krama’ will be returning to Singapore next year and will also be performed at Kampot Readers and Writers festival this coming month.

I am delighted with how the piece has turned out, and am looking forward to it continuing to grow with the many performances and workshops that are being delivered by the team.

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