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Cambodian kids on a high with WA Ballet
Cambodian kids on a high with WA Ballet

The universal language of dance is helping bridge a gap for a troupe of impoverished disabled Cambodian dancers, who have been able to experience a day in the life of a leading Western ballet company.

Nine former Cambodian street kids, eight of them deaf and the other in a wheelchair, were guests of the WA Ballet through the Perth-based charity Ride Aid and Epic Arts Cambodia.

They participated in a dance workshop at the State Ballet Centre in Maylands before attending a performance of The Nutcracker and mingling with WA Ballet dancers backstage at His Majesty’s Theatre.

“It has been inspiring to see these kids and the background they have come from,” WA Ballet general manager Steven Roth said.

“It is important for our dancers to see that it might be a struggle in a dance company when you are coming off the stage with sore feet but some people really struggle in life intensely.”

Ride Aid founder Frank Surgener said the troupe had started dancing six years ago, when most of its members were about 14, as part of a community aid project in Kampot, a poor coastal town in Cambodia.

The group has been in Perth for a week of activities associated with the UN International Day of People with Disability on Monday.

“This is the week globally for people with disabilities so there was no better time for these guys to come over and showcase their abilities,” Mr Surgener said.

Their visit concludes with performances at Mandurah foreshore today at 10.15am and 12.20pm and the Nedlands foreshore tomorrow at 4pm.