Artistic encounters
in war and violent conflict
 

Prumsodun Ok

Prumsodun Ok Performing Artist

Prumsodun Ok is a Cambodian-American contemporary artist and the founder of Cambodia┬┤s first all-male and gay-identified dance company. Through the art of Khmer classical dance he is giving new life to an ancient legacy, bringing together multiple approaches to empower heal, and advocate.

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Prumsodun Ok
Cambodia
Performing Artist

The artist

Prumsodun Ok is an artist, teacher, writer, researcher, and cultural activist. Born to Khmer refugees in California, US, Prumsodun rose from the poverty and violence-stricken inner city of Long Beach to become the new face of Khmer dance - an ancient art form that was nearly destroyed during the Khmer Rouge genocide of the late 1970s. By bringing new life to the Khmer dance, Prumsodun is combining multiple cultures and approaches to heal, illuminate, and empower - reviving the spirit of his people from the enduring forces of conflict.

Prumsodun's interdisciplinary performance contemplate the 'avant-garde in antiquity', and have been presented in several countries across the world. He has also brought a diverse group of artists, activists and scholars together for Children of Refugees, a program of talks and performances raising awareness for the Syrian refugee crisis. Among many honors, Prumsodun is a TED Senior Fellow and was named by Tea Uglow, creative director of Google Creative Lab in Sydnes, an LGBT+ Creative Leader of Tomorrow for the Dots's and WeTransfer's Championing Diversity Initiative.

He is currently living in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where he pioneers work at the forefront of cultural preservation, artistic innovation, and LGBTQ advocacy, creating a new face for Cambodia and for LGBTQ people that transcends pain, struggle, and violence.

The magic of Khmer classical dance: Prumsodun's groundbreaking performances have been described as 'radical beauty' by the Bangkok Post and have been staged throughout Cambodia, Thailand, Mexico, Greece, and the United States.

Selected works

Sereyios (2021)

"As I set my eyes on the future, I have decided to 'bring it all together' and launch a new initiative called Sereyios. This is something of a creative agency and production company, working in and across the disciplines of dance, music, film, and design. It is a natural extension of my work which is multifaceted and interdisciplinary, coming from a place of love for my tradition, students, and community. The ultimate goals are to push my students to become their own stars, nurturing their potential and abilities beyond dance, as well as the creation of groundbreaking, high-impact projects which build our sustainability, so that we can advocate for who and what we love until our last breaths."

Prumsodun Ok & NATYARASA

In 2015, Prumsodun Ok founded Cambodia's first gay dance company, Prumsodun Ok & NATYARASA. The company restage Khmer classical dances with a vital freshness and create original, groundbreaking works at the intersection of art and human dignity. As they infuse their tradition with a contemporary spirit, they elevate the quality of life and expression for LGBTQ people in Cambodia and beyond. "Through cultural preservation, artistic innovation, rigorous education, leadership development, and fearless advocacy, we strive to create lasting, positive transformation that is local in character and global in significance". The company has become one of Cambodia's most celebrated dance companies, garnering both popular and critical acclaim.

Click here to watch a video of Prumsodun teaching his student Reaksmey, who plays King Varendrajaya in Phleng Spean Chivit, a 2.5-hour classical dance drama inspired by the Japanese folktale Akoya-Hime. "It's been a journey for him, from the days of riding his bicycle 20km one-way to come to class, to moving into a temple, so that he could be close to us, to hearing that he is beautiful for the first time, and to now be tasked to play a character with the most power in society. As a teacher, I am so excited as he is at the point of starting to awaken, a flower beginning to bloom".

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