Lost Royal Cambodian Dance History Reappears in Earth in Flower
A wartime twist of fate resulted in a rare eyewitness account of Southeast Asia’s most esoteric female performers: the dancers of the ancient Cambodian ballet. More than 30 years after the Khmer Rouge genocide their intriguing story will be published as “Earth in Flower.”
Honolulu, HI – In 1975, Cambodia plunged into one of the worst genocides in human history, killing more than 1.5 million people. Experts estimate that 90 percent of the country’s artists died, including royal dancers and teachers who perpetuated the country’s sacred dance rituals. Now, three decades later, the most comprehensive analysis of Cambodian dance will be published as Earth in Flower (ISBN: 978-1-934431-28-3).
Since the dawn of recorded history, Khmer royalty nurtured a dance style unique to their Asian kingdom, yet instantly recognizable throughout the world. Publisher Kent Davis states, “These Cambodian women have profoundly influenced Asian history as living goddesses, priestesses, queens, concubines, hostages and diplomats. Spiritually, the graceful dancers embody the essence and strength of the Khmer race.”
After a military coup deposed King Sihanouk a new government seized control of Cambodia … and the royal dancers. Surrounded by violence, scholars desperately sought to document this cultural treasure by engaging American researcher Paul Cravath. He arrived as a circle of war gripped the capital city, becoming one of the only Westerners in history to gain firsthand access to the formerly sequestered troupe of royal dancers, teachers and archives.
On April 17, 1975, Phnom Penh fell; the Khmer Rouge began their reign of terror. Cravath escaped the city on a military transport only 10 days earlier with his research intact. The archives he accessed were destroyed. Most of the royal dancers perished in the Killing Fields.
Three decades later, Cravath’s painstaking documentation of the choreography, musicology, costuming, stagecraft, theatre and origins of Cambodia’s ancient dance tradition will finally be published. His book offers new insights about this beautiful art, its long-hidden history and, according to the author, “Earth in Flower reveals how Cambodian dancers have, for more than a millennium, balanced the Khmer relationship between heaven and earth.”
Dr. Paul Cravath is a scholar, teacher, actor and theatre director with extensive Asian research experience. He based Earth in Flower on primary research he conducted in Cambodia and Thailand, followed by ten years of archival research in the US. Cravath is now Professor of Theatre at the University of Hawaii-LCC.
DatASIA, Inc is an independent publisher affiliated with PMA (The Independent Book Publishers Association) and SPAN (Small Publishers Association of North America). DatASIA is also active in research and education projects in Southeast Asia. The company has offices in Florida and Bangkok, Thailand.
Kent Davis – Direct line: 941-778-3086 (Florida, USA)