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Homepage of New Year > Evening Program - Cambodian New Year Festival 2008

Cambodian New Year Festival 2008 - Silicon Valley Bay Area, Northern California

New Year celebration is the biggest and most significant event for Cambodian community and Cambodian society everywhere. Most importantly, the celebration of "Khmer New Year" is a symbol to remind us of our culture and heritage. The Cambodian New Year Festival showcases the richness of Cambodian life in our community. The treasured folk culture and history of Cambodia delight the senses in colorful display of art, fashion, music, and dance. The cultural diversity in the Bay Area makes it one of the best places to live in the world. Cambodian-Americans are certainly significant pieces of that cultural tapestry. The preservation of the Cambodian culture is, therefore, vital. It is paramount not only to the collective community, but also to the Cambodian community, and the individual Cambodians themselves.


MASTERS OF CEREMONY & STAGEMANAGER
Mr. Sovandy Hang (MC): Born in Cambodia, Sovandy was aised in the East Bay. A volunteer with the Youth Cultural Dance Program working with at-risk youth and low income family in Oakland area since 1996 and he has been involved in many community cultural events.
Miss. Amanda Yean (MC): Amanda was born and raised in San Jose. A former troupe member of the San Jose Cambodian Cultural Dance Group for all of her adolescent life. Amanda has grown within the troupe and has performed various cultural dances since she was 12.
Mrs. Channary Bill (Stage Manager): - The President of Santa Clara Cambodian Women Association. Involved with the New Year's Event for several years and former Chairperson of New Year Committee

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CO-CHAIRPERSONS OF THE COMMITTEE:
Chanthoeun To
: Born and spent most of his adolescent life in Cambodia. Schooled at Tuol Tumpuong in Phnom Penh, studied in the former Soviet Union briefly, then at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Presently a Senior Software Engineer working for a Silicon Valley software company. Aside from his private life, a devoted community leader. He joined CARA since 2000 and has contributed many hours of community services.
Miss. Kara Uy: Born in Cambodia and currently resides in San Jose. One of her greatest attributes is her dedication to the community. For almost a decade, she has been a Domestic Violence Family Advocate at Asian American’s for Community Involvement. She is an active volunteer to organizations that believe in positive change, including acting as a board of director for Santa Clara County Cambodian Women’s Association. Kara’s creative endeavors include photography, music, writing and entrepreneurialism.

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NATIONAL ANTHEM
American National Anthem performed by American National Anthem by ROTC - Oak Grove High School and vocalized by Miss Kara Uy and Khmer National Anthem

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KEYNOTE SPEAKER
Mr. Van Chek: Born in 1948 in Prey Veng, Cambodia. He graduated from Takmao High School, Kandal province, in 1967. In 1969 he went to study language and radio broadcasting in Czechoslovakia and received his bachelor degree there. He immigrated to America in 1975 and moved to San Jose in 1979. He currently works as a realtor/loan officer. He also dedicates a significant amount of time to serve the community. Mr. Chek has been president of the San Jose Cambodian Buddhist Society for the past 12 years, and has collaborated closely with other community organizations. He is married and is a proud father of two daughters.

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Mr. Jose Esteves, Milpitas Mayor, a friend of Cambodian community of Santa County. Mr. Albert, Representative of Congress Mike Honda. Congressman has been VIP guests for the Cambodian community for several years Mr. Dave Cortese, Vice-Mayor of San Jose City, first time as Guest Speaker to Cambodian New Year Festival Chanthoeun To, Co-Chair, presents statue of Apsara as souvenir to Mr. Dave Cortese. All special guests received these souvenirs.
 
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Blessing Dance (Robam Choun-Por)
This dance is performed at the official opening ceremony offering wishes to the audience. It is the dance of greetings and good wishes that describe the name of this dance. In this classical piece the lyrics and gestures describe the wishes of happiness. Flower petals are tossed gently from small golden trays as a way of blessing the audience and the event. Performed by the Cambodian Cultural Dance Troupe: Erica Seu, Jocelyn Tran, Aliza Bunyi, Cheng Sim, Aimee Boun.

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Fashion Show - Set One: Angkor Royal Court
We now travel back in time to the twelfth century and re-create the beauty and grandeur of the mystical world of ancient Cambodia. Savor the essence and glories of the distant past. The spirit of Angkor lives on…
Costume: Men and women of Angkor adorned themselves with heavily ornamented jewelry such as gold and precious gems. Saphires, Rubies, and Emerald were popular. The royal women wore long skirts made of imported silk from India embroidered with gold flowers. The skirts were designed and made of look like the beautiful flower (Phkar Chan), a four petal flower, which was widely used for worship and offerings. The skirts represent the closed petal or buds of Phkar Chan. The sash that falls from the waist are the vines and leaves. The headdresses are the flowers in full bloom. Phkar Chan symbolizes the female reproductive organ- the uterus, which represents fertility- a belief in the divine power of the feminine energy (Shakti) associated with the Brahmanism and the God Shiva.

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Tep Apsara Dance (Robam Tep Apsara)
This royal ballet was originally performed at the offering ceremonies and other palace celebrations during the Angkorian Era. In the 1950’s Cambodian Queen Sisowath Kossomak Nearyrath, King Sihanouk’s mother, was the inspiration behind the genesis of the Apsara dance. Based on the legendary battles and mythical sagas including the churning of the Sea of Milk, the great battle between gods and demons for the Holy Water came the beautiful Apsaras, half-woman half-goddess. They are heavenly dancers who keep happiness and prosperity for the people. The significance of this dance is the meaning behind every movement. Each gesture symbolizes something meaningful, such as love or peace. Arms crossed over the chest means very happy. The left arm stretches out behind while the right hand raises up at the chest with three fingers up and the index finger touching the thumb to depict the Naga, the great serpent that symbolizes the spirit of the Cambodian people.
The dance portrays Princess Mera, white Apsara, dancing in her garden. Her maidens, also Apsaras, who made flower garlands and flower sashes, join her. Their circular movements, poised motions, and lightness of their gestures, all symbolize their hovering. Performed by the Cambodian Cultural Dance Troupe: Krystal Sim, Julia Daniels, Jennifer Tran, Jenny Vann, and Lily Ngar.

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Line of Angels Dance (Robam Neary-Chea-Chuor)
This dance is a Khmer Classical dance describing the beauty of young ladies in their elegant costumes performing beautiful Khmer dance. This dance reminds the Khmer people of the rich culture that has been kept and nourished through generations, and it is a well known among the neighboring countries. Performed by the Khmer Angkor Dance Troupe: Elizabeth Mey, Cassandra Len, Soriya Sok, Vichhacka Leng, Tierra Voeun.

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Godess of Rain & Thunder Dance (Robam Moni Mekala)
This royal classical dance is a prayer dance. It is usually performed when praying for the Goddess of the rain to donate water to a nation in drought. Moni Mekala is known to be that Goddess of the rain. She uses her Crystal ball as a powerful weapon to defeat Ream-Ea-So, the giant, who has been trying to kill her for that weapon. This dance depicts the story of three students, Moni Mekala, Ream-Ea-So and prince Vora-chhun, who received lessons from one teacher, Moni-Ey-Sey. The teacher had given each of them specialized weapons before their departure. Ream-Ea-So was a bad giant who seeks to steal the other’s weapons to be top in his class. He kills prince Vora-chhun for his Sword, and is trying to kill Moni Mekala for her Crystal ball. Moni Mekala is not only beautiful, but is also powerful. She fights her battle bravely with Ream-Ea-So. While attempting to take possession of the Crystal ball from Moni Mekala, Ream-Ea-So throws his Arch in an attempt to kill her. To prevent this, she throws her Crystal ball up to make the thunder’s flame, blinding Ream-Ea-So and defeats him at the scene. The dance illustrates the movements of the two characters fighting with each other to gain possession of the crystal ball. Performed by the Cambodian Cultural Dance Troupe: Samnang Chang & Lakhena Howey.

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Fashion Show - Set Two:
10 modern Khmer ensembles (Clothing from Darany Fashions, Davy, Dara)

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Cambodian Language School - Lead by Mr. Kas Thon (Long Time Teacher) and Mr. Sambun Boun: The Cambodian School is a community group that is run by a team of Cambodian teachers, parents, and volunteers. Assisting Cambodian parents and children to overcome their language and cultural barriers, Bridging their intergenerational gap, and Strengthening their families.

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Flower of the World Dance (Robam Bopha-Lokei)
This dance is one of the classical dances performed strictly by children. It was created to inspire young children to love Cambodian tradition. This dance cheerfully expresses the joy of children and their appreciation toward the flowers and nature of Earth. Performed by the Cambodina Cultural Dance Troupe: Hoai Huong, Shawnica Meas, Rosevina Set, Veda Boun, Nyah Ea, and Kiana Dean Jimenez.

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Pestle Dance (Robam Koah Ang-Rei)
This folk dance represents the happy time of Cambodian peasants after the harvest season. It is a tradition that right after harvest time peasants typically celebrate to thank the heaven for giving them their crops. The celebration is also to have fun after the hard work. Wood pestles are used to manually extract rice. For this dance, two long wood pestles are clapped together as the dance instruments. They first begin with the folk song describing the happiness of being born as Cambodian peasants. Performed by the Khmer Angkor Dance Troupe: Johnny Carson, Gena Nguyen, Peng Sreng Taing, Jennifer Ken, Chantha Koeng, Laura Sieng, Patrick Thipkatok, Molly Sath, Socheat Prum, Anthony Sin, Ravy Mey, Jeremy Hong Peav, Jasmin Loung, Jessica Prum, Alison Saelee, Pamela Thipkatok, and Jamie So.

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Coconut Shells Dance (Robam Koah Trah Lauk)
This is a Folk dance which was originated in the Svay Rieng province (south-east region of Cambodia). This dance demonstrates the richness of the coconut plants in Cambodia and how it contributes to human life. It is often performed during a wedding procession, engagement ceremony and other national Festivities. Well-polished coconut shells are used as musical instruments by dancers, bringing live animation and flirtatious move to enhance the festivity. This dance also represents the wealth and health in the new relationship.
Performed by the Cambodian Cultural Dance Troupe: Lily Nga, Erica Seu, Joycelyn Tran, Jennifer Tran, Aliza Bunyi, Shawndina Meas, Samnang Chang, Chheng Sim, Jenny Vann, Aimee Boun, Lakhena Howey, Krystal Sim, and Julia Daniels.

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Fashion Show - Set Three:
10 Modern spring Dresses (QC designs in San Francisco)

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Social Dance
The talented Seak Meas Band will accompany our social dance. Unfortunately, as some of you many already know, one of the band's members, Pou Sambok, passed away not too long ago. Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family. This year, his band will play to celebrate his life and in memory of him. Miss Bopha Lor, the popular singer from Southern California, will be our main singer/entertainer for the social dance. Bopha won the Asian American Pageant a few years ago and has been entertaining/singing for numerous years.

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COMMITTEE IN GENERAL:

Based on the U.S. Census 2000, Cambodian-American population in the Bay Area - San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose - totaled approximately 10,500, but mostly concentrated in Oakland and San Jose. Among those in the region celebrating Cambodian New Year Festival 2008 are doctors, lawyers, engineers, college professors, teachers, small business owners, CEO/president of corporation, and military officers. This represents a small but integral part of society. Many contribute their talents and their times to organize and coordinate during event planning and preparation. Others contribute financial by taking part as event sponsors. This year the San Jose Cambodian Cultural Dance Troupe will be collaborating with Khmer Angkor Dance Troupe from Oakland to put a full schedule performance during the evening program. And for the first time, the evening entertainment will include traditional Cambodian ensembles from Angkor era apparel to modern fashion.

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Lifenotes-Photography