Reclaiming a Lost Cultural Connection Through Art

Victoria Menchaca, Ordway 1/9/16

How do you find your cultural identity and explain your heritage to others when you cannot even read or write the language of your people? In this ORDWAY Extra, Setra Kouch, Rothana Walbolt, Tommy Sar, and Sovanneary Phann Sweere discover the origins of the disconnect Cambodians feel to their culture. They ask: Can music, dance, and art unite Cambodians with their lost culture?

In this video, panelists discussed local efforts in cultivating a new generation of Khmer traditionally art forms prior to Dengue Fever’s Ordway performance.

Videography/Photography: Sherine Onukwuwe, Souleye Films

Speaker Bios

Setra Kouch
President and CEO of the Minnesota Cambodian Communities Council

One of the most influential leaders for all levels of The Khmer People, Setra Kouch is the acting President and CEO of the Minnesota Cambodian Communities Council and the founder of the International Cambodian Assembly. In his work, Kouch hopes to provide healing for the Khmer People and restore Khmer culture and social structure.

Rothana Walbolt
Executive Director and Co-Founder of the Minnesota Cambodian Communities Council

Born in Cambodia and raised in a refugee camp in Thailand, Rothana Walbolt serves as the executive director and co-founder of the Minnesota Cambodian Communities Council. Walbolt previously co-founded the first Khmer Classical Dance Group in Minnesota, managed events for Red Rose Productions, and served as a board member at the Asian Pacific Cultural Center.

Tommy Sar
Amateur Photographer and Ordway Community Engagement Coordinator

Amateur photographer Tommy Sar focuses his work on documenting social activism within the community. With the Ordway, Sar helped create authentic community ownership as a Community Advisor member for Notes from Asia: Vocabulary of Movement and Sound series. Now, he works with the Ordway in order to actively engage with the Twin Cities’ community and merge his passion for art and for activating social change.

Sovanneary Phann Sweere
Community Program Assistant and Library Associate

A working mother of two kids, Sovanneary spends her days as both a part-time community program assistant and library associate. With the Ordway, she provided guidance and assistance as a Vision Council member for Notes from Asia: Vocabulary of Movement and Sound, a World Music and Dance series.

Dengue Fever is a Los Angeles-based band widely recognized for their danceable, delightful mix of Cambodian pop music, psychedelic rock and American garage rock. As their own record label and as a band, they are currently touring around the nation promoting their fifth album, The Deepest Lake.

View more photos in an online gallery >

Dengue Fever pre-show photos by Sherine Onukwuwe

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