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Tim Thou Chan at home. Photo: Brent Crane, Dance, 2018; Lowell, Massachusetts;
Tim Thou Chan at home. Photo: Brent Crane, Dance, 2018

Lowell, Massachusetts
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Tim Chan Thou
Lowell, MA
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Maddox Yang
Lowell, MA
The ancient art of Cambodian dance was nearly lost when the Khmer Rouge ruled the country in the 1970s. Dancers who survived have striven to preserve the endangered technique and repertoire, both in Cambodia and in the communities where they resettled. One of these is Tim Chan Thou of Lowell, co-founder of Angkor Dance Troupe. He was 21 and living in a Thai refugee camp when he began to study Cambodian folk dance from master teachers who had survived the Khmer Rouge Genocide.

In contrast to the royal court dance tradition of Cambodian classical dance, Cambodian folk dance (e.g., The Coconut Dance, Pestle Dance, Fishing Dance, Good Crops Dance) depicts the everyday lives of Khmer people during.

Apprentice Maddox Yang was only four when he remembers being captivated by the sound of the traditional pin peat music that accompanies traditional Cambodian dance. He learned some basic dance moves by watching You Tube and mimicking dance Cambodian videos that his family purchased from Cambodian stores. So the opportunity to study with master Tim Thou came as a welcome surprise.

This apprenticeship will make it possible for Tim to teach Maddox outside of the regular Sunday group classes at Angkor Dance. In addition to learning dances, Maddox will also be trained to become a folk dance teacher and costumer at Angkor Dance Troupe. For one so young, he is aware of the tradition's fragility, "When I become older I can be a master like Tim Thou and continue to teach so that my culture will stay alive."
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