Friday, June 04, 2010
Opening Night of Fez Festival
After all the months of waiting the opening of the Fez Sacred Music Festival is only hours away. The Medina is packed with visitors, many of whom are making their annual pilgrimage to the Festival.
This year's programme looks superb and the weather, although hot at the moment (34 degrees C), is expected to cool down in the coming days. All of which bodes well for a great Festival.
There is much excitement about many of the artists, with the biggest buzz being about Ben Harper's appearance on Saturday night. To everyone's amazement, Harper cancelled at the last minute, claiming to be ill. See our story here.
The only other hiccups to date have been minor in comparisson with the late delivery of media passes, with several French journalists complaining of having to wait hours for passes which should have been ready days in advance.
The Festival programme has been beautifully produced although the English language translation is, as usual, a mess. Unlike some previous years the press kit was ready and waiting for the press. One surprising revelation in the programme is the list of honorary committee members. While containing many important names, there is not one solitary woman! Hopefully this lapse will be rectified in coming years. The days of all male committees are a thing of the past and the Fes Festival needs to catch up.
The opening night performance will be a fine example of Khmer classical dance given by the Cambodian Royal Ballet. Back in 2004 the Director General of UNESCO proclaimed Khmer classical dance a Masterpiece of oral and intangible heritage of humanity.
The form has a very long tradition with the earliest records of dance in Cambodia being from the 7th century, where performances were used as a funeral rite for kings, a ritual that continues to this day.
It has been a hard struggle to survive as Khmer classical dance suffered a huge blow during the Khmer Rouge regime during which many dancers were killed because classical dance was thought as of an aristocratic institution. Although 90 percent of all Cambodian classical artists perished between 1975 and 1979 after the fall of the Khmer Rouge, those who did survive wandered out from hiding, found one another, and formed "colonies" in order to revive their sacred traditions. Khmer classical dance training was resurrected in the refugee camps in eastern Thailand with the few surviving Khmer dancers. Many dances and dance dramas were also recreated at the Royal University of Fine-Arts in Cambodia. The Royal Ballet of Cambodia was the main troupe of classical dancers in Cambodia before the Khmer Rouge regime, but since Cambodia has gain its peace, a few other professional and amateur troupes have risen.
To see all the Fez Festival 2010 stories on The View from Fez, click HERE!