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Exploring the land of culture shock

August 24, 2003|Chris Pasles

Innovative Cambodian choreographer Sophiline Cheam Shapiro of the Long Beach-based Khmer Arts Academy startled the arts community in February with her powerful adaptation of Shakespeare's "Othello" into Cambodian classical dance idioms.

Now, she and Cambodian composer Chinary Ung, who teaches at UC San Diego, have been awarded a $32,000 New England Foundation for the Arts grant to create a new music and dance project.

The work, to be called "Seasons of Migration," will explore the four stages of culture shock -- euphoria, rejection, adjustment and equilibrium.

"I moved to the United States in 1991," Shapiro says. "It was hard. But going back to Cambodia in 1996 was also hard.

"I had always thought that Cambodia was my home. Then, the moment I stepped on the plane, I realized, no, here is my home too. Culture shock has been part of my life for so many years."

The work is scheduled to be premiered in spring 2005 at the Richard and Karen Carpenter Performing Arts Center in Long Beach.

-- Chris Pasles

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