VIDEO: First Look at Cambodia's First LGBTQ Dance Company
Prumsodun Ok (b. 1987) is an artist, teacher, writer, and cultural activist committed to the positive transformation of our world. His interdisciplinary performances contemplate "the avant-garde in antiquity," mining the tradition of Khmer classical dance to explore the intersection of contemporary social issues with new possibilities for performance. His original works have been presented at REDCAT (Los Angeles), CounterPULSE (San Francisco), OUTSider Festival (Austin), Teatro Benito Juárez (Mexico), Khmer Arts Theater (Cambodia), bhive (Greece), and at an international conference co-hosted by the Society of Dance History Scholars and the Congress on Research in Dance. In addition, he has performed in salon-style contexts for friends and select guests in Los Angeles and San Francisco, Rio de Janeiro and Santiago de Chile.
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Ok's writings on art, culture, and sexuality have been published by Salon.com, THOAMADA II, In Dance Magazine, and featured by the California Dance Network. In 2013, he published his first book: Moni Mekhala and Ream Eyso. Featuring additional contributions from award-winning choreographer Sophiline Cheam Shapiro, cultural anthropologist Toni Shapiro-Phim, and visual artist Brian Mendez, the book retells the sacred tale of the same name to explore cycles of knowledge, love, and violence as well as the realities of today's women. It was favorably reviewed in the Asian Theatre Journal as "a sampeah kru ritual of a sort: an offering to teachers living and deceased and to Moni Mekhala [the Goddess of the Ocean] herself."
Ok has a strong history of creating platforms for which to bring diverse ideas, approaches, and communities together. He has directed and produced the SFAI Asian Performance Series in San Francisco and curated programs for INTERCITY (Phnom Penh) and Anatomy Riot (Los Angeles). In 2013, he brought a compelling group of artists, scholars, activists, and volunteers from all across the United States for Children of Refugees, a forum which explored the rich breadth of the refugee experience through engaging talks and performances and raised money and awareness for the Syrian refugee crisis.
Ok is the honored recipient of grants and fellowships from TED, MAP Fund, Surdna Foundation, Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP), Choreographers in Mentorship Exchange (CHIME), Durfee Foundation, Center for Cultural Innovation, and the Network of Ensemble Theaters among others. He has been a guest lecturer and speaker at Directors Lab West, UCLA, Loyola Marymount University, and NYU as part of Season of Cambodia. Currently, he is associate artistic director of Khmer Arts and serves on the board of directors of the Alliance for California Traditional Arts. Most importantly, Ok is forever thankful to his teachers, mentors and friends: choreographer Sophiline Cheam Shapiro; vanguard composer Charles Boone; filmmakers Ernie Gehr, Jeannie Liotta, and Brook Hinton; scholars Toni Shapiro-Phim, Anurima Banerji, and David Gere; Oguri and Sherwood Chen; director Peter Sellars; and theater director Claudio Valdés Kuri.