Ballet dancer

Legendary and beloved Royal Ballet dancer dies aged 88

Legendary ballet dancer Em Theay, who promoted the Royal Ballet of the Kingdom for decades, died yesterday in Phnom Penh.

They were 88 years old.

His death drew many condolences from government dignitaries.

Prime Minister Hun Sen sent his condolences to Theay’s family.

“My wife and I are so sorry for the loss of a legendary ballet dancer. It’s like the loss of a mother, a grandmother. She was a great dancer alive,” Mr. Hun-sen.

“All her life, she dedicated her precious time to promoting and preserving the cultural arts of our country,” he said.

Culture Minister Phoeurng Sackona said yesterday that Cambodia has lost a living great dancer from the Royal Ballet.

“It is a great loss for the cultural sector – both traditional dance, music and traditional songs. Your body is gone, but you left behind the precious artistic achievement of Cambodian children, who will forever remember your achievement for the nation,” she said.

“I want to pay you a final tribute,” she said.

Theay learned the art at the Royal Palace, where she was born and raised, along with other young people.

She was allowed to join the palace’s Khmer classical dance class when she was about six years old. His parents worked at the Palais Royal.

Theay was a member of the Royal Ballet when Prince Norodom Sihanouk ruled the country in the 1950s and 1960s. She continued to be part of Cambodia’s national ballet company when he was ousted in 1970.

After the overthrow of the Khmer Rouge regime in 1979, Theay was among the survivors who helped re-open the Royal University of Fine Arts in the 1980s.

In 2012 Theay was awarded the honorary title of Teva Neath Nimit, the Royal Ballet’s most precious living human treasure.

  • Keywords: Em Theay, royal ballet