The Royal Ballet of Cambodia has a remarkable story behind it.
But seeing it unfold on the stage of the Byham Theater was a manifestation of its purpose in its country.
Lavishly beautiful and serene, even when the all-female cast of dancers were performing as men, we caught a glimpse into the national character of Cambodia.
Certainly the Cambodians’ style bore a common resemblance to other Asian countries, particularly India and Thailand, with a certain weightiness to the legs and ornate arms weaving a series of pictures above.
This company was suitably titled ballet because there was an organic effortlessness about it, an aristocratic style born of its courtly days. These were spiritual peacemakers on stage, best exemplified by the angels at the end.
Underneath that effortlessness, though, was an impeccable control, with balletic attitudes, but with the knee pointed to the floor and the back foot almost touching the body. They held these poses in slow, breathtaking promenades.
Most notable were the hands, though it is said that they practice stretching them until the back of their hands can touch the wrists.
With that kind of flexibility available, they can hold their hands along a backward curve, not pushing, but in a celestial arch.