‘Rain and Life’ Flow Across LHS Stage

October 5, 2018

Peter Veth of Lowell portrays the character Ream Eyso, wielding his ax. See video and a slide show at lowellsun.com. Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

LOWELL -- Roselynn Soung and seven other barefoot dancers took center stage Thursday evening at Lowell High School’s Cyrus W. Irish Auditorium. Their movements were slow and controlled as they twirled their wrists in unison. For the dress rehearsal, each woman wore a different colored chang kben, a lower-body, wrap-around cloth traditionally worn in Cambodia. Their beaded tops glittered in the spotlight.

The graceful performance is one of several in “Rain & Life,” the 2018 annual fundraising residency show presented by the Angkor Dance Troupe. Held at the Cyrus W. Irish Auditorium at 50 Father Morissette Blvd., Lowell, the production premieres at 7 tonight and will have a second run on Saturday at the same time. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and tickets for general admission cost $25, and $15 for college students with a valid ID.

Based on a story in Cambodia, “Rain & Life” follows the prayer of heaven and earth during the monsoon season to the harvest season, according to the show’s description. Rain is often described as a time of despair, but residents in the Southeast Asian country see it as an opportunity for growth and have always relied on rain to provide food and water, especially during the harvest season, the troupe’s website details.

“If the rain comes, the crop will grow and then the farmers live happily,” said Tim Thou, co-founder and operations director of the Angkor Dance Troupe.

Performing in “Rain & Life” means a lot to Soung, who was born in Lowell to Cambodian parents.

“My goal was to preserve the culture and not to lose our culture,” Soung, 22, said. “When people think of Cambodia, they think of the Khmer Rouge. For me, there’s way more than that. There’s (the) arts.”

Earlier in the evening, Soung helped guide the troupe’s youngest performers as they practiced a frog dance, which makes up Scene Four of this weekend’s production.

“The froggies are here,” said Peter Veth, one of the troupe’s principal dancers who was overseeing the rehearsal.

Sounds of “ribbit” permeated the auditorium as the dancers ages 5 to 10 hopped on stage. Music took over and several of the dancers leapfrogged over one another and waved their arms over their heads. Soung and Artistic Director Neakru Phousita Huy encouraged them to stretch their arms farther apart since they were now using a much larger space to perform.

As he waited for the next set of dancers to rehearse, Veth said it was crunch time and the troupe was feeling a “good nervous.”

“I think everyone can walk away with something for the night,” he said of the show. “The whole piece is about water and it’s about rain... how rain is like the fertility of life.”

For tickets to “Rain & Life,” visit www.angkordance.org .

Follow Amaris Castillo on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.

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