Having Been Absent for a While…..

I haven’t blogged for ages. Then, I had coffee with two people: Bridget Keehan and Steph Januchowski – separately.

They both encouraged me to write more.

I don’t write enough – whether papers, books, articles, blogposts. I think it is a dyslexic confidence thing. Ironically when I do write, I write too much.

Anyway, a brief update on stuff I’ve been doing. I largely spent much of last year silent because I was on sabbatical and trying to process the work I’ve done on Cambodia and dance in the last few years. I came up with a book plan and more ‘things I’d like to do if I got funded’. Then I applied for fellowships and, amazingly, was awarded one from the Leverhulme Trust last week on ‘Dance in Contemporary Cambodia: Nation, geopolitics and identity.’ I will start this when I’ve finished up some of my other projects, including working with Bridget on the Our Place soundscape and my British Academy-Leverhulme Trust grant on the 1990 Cambodian National Dance Company tour to the UK.

Autumn semester is always manic for me teaching wise, but I was part of a panel on Creative Migration at Journeys Festival International, which was a great experience with some wonderful artists. I managed to do some writing for an edited handbook on Geographies of Creativity on Cambodian dance and YouTube but learned from that experience that I value my sanity and family time! I also Screen Shot 2018-03-06 at 16.09.23gave a public lecture on my work on Cambodian dance (see left) as a Learned Society of Wales public lecture. This was linked to my award of the Dillwyn Medal last year.

In this lecture I talked about some research I had recently conducted in Cambodia. I returned to the country in January for a few weeks to meet artists amid a very rapidly changing environment. I was super lucky to coincide with the Royal Ballet performance, though not so lucky as to coincide with the Contemporary Dance festival, but you can’t have everything! I was also funded to research the 1990 tour and the reason the Royal Ballet performance was so key in this regard is that many of the master dancers were there from across Cambodia for this one weekend. This meant that I was able to spend time with them and talk to them about their experiences (many of the dancers have died, or live abroad). As there are no written archives, or even newspapers from this period in Cambodia, the dancers are the archive. The repository of knowledge. I always love Diana Taylor’s work on this. It was a real honour for me and I met some of Cambodia’s most elite and esteemed dance masters. I remain incredibly humbled by their knowledge and experiences, plus their tales of coming to the UK were really illuminating, and, at times, simply hilarious. I committed myself to learning Khmer when I was there and now I have the Fellowship, I have got to do this. I’ll just add that to my list!

So, I am still around. I got promoted too! But now, I have to get back to those article revisions……