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Thinking and Talking about Arts and Culture in Southeast Asia

With Classical Dancer’s Death, Loss of a Cambodian Legend (via The Cambodia Daily)

Yet Sarin, a star dancer of Cambodia’s classical male masked dance lakhaon kaol, died on Saturday at Phnom Penh’s Calmette Hospital after a long illness. He was 91. He had fought hepatitis for a year, his wife Bin Van, 50, said on Monday.

Born in 1925, Yet Sarin trained in Kandal province at Wat Svay Andet, which was renowned for its lakhaon kaol dance tradition, said Kang Rithisal, executive director of dance company Amrita Performing Arts.

“In the 1960s, when Queen Sisowath Kossamak, the mother of King Norodom Sihanouk, made a national decision to include male dancers for the monkey role in Cambodia’s [female] classical dance…Yet Sarin was the first to perform the white monkey role with the Royal Ballet,” he said.

“That’s why he was better known by students and people in the performing arts community as ‘Lok Ta Sar,’ which means ‘Grandfather White.’”

During the Khmer Rouge era of the mid-1970s, Lok Ta Sar was slated to be killed several times. But each time it was about to happen, the Khmer Rouge would move him to a new location, postponing his execution, he told Mr. Rithisal a few years ago. And when it seemed he was finally certain to be killed, he was saved by the arrival of the Vietnamese army along with a Cambodian contingent in early 1979.

Read more at The Cambodia Daily.

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