Two months ago, eight of the girls approached Roxanne and asked for hip-hop dance lessons. It wasn’t a request out of the blue – these girls love dancing and have received dance instruction in the past, including Khmer classical dance and ballet. But hip-hop is the thing, and they wanted to learn it.
Roxanne did some research and found that Katy Dance Studio in Phnom Penh was offering hip-hop classes on Sunday afternoons. After the initial contact and a trial class, the girls – Micky, Olivia, Dalein, Malee, Dani, Dina, Lisa and Mary – were enrolled.
When Viktor Natraseniuk, their instructor, found out that they all hailed from an orphanage, he immediately volunteered to waive their fees. In recognition of his generosity, the girls, accompanied by Tony, paid Viktor a visit at the studio to deliver a certificate of friendship and a painting (featuring an Apsara dancer, of course). Viktor, by the way, is from Ukraine; he has 18 years of experience as a professional dancer and coach and was previously one of the top competitive dancers in the world.
The girls have enjoyed their lessons enormously and think the world of their new teacher. But learning a new dance form says Roxanne, is more than just memorizing the steps. ‘The girls already have a good foundation in dance, but they need to learn the technical aspects, the synchronisation and the facial expressions that go with hip-hop, and how to channel their emotions through movement,’ she explains. So, our eager ballerinas continue to attend and practise diligently.
And they wait, with some trepidation, to find out whether they will be able to take part in the dance studio’s upcoming hip-hop recital, to be held in late May at Coconut Park, a new multi-use recreational venue on Diamond Island in Phnom Penh. Only a few students will be selected to perform at the recital, so everyone at Little Hearts is holding their breath…