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The 11th Edition of the Tini Tinou International Circus Festival is Back!

SIEM REAP: Phare Ponleu Selpak is pleased to present the Tini Tinou International Circus Festival in Battambang from 29 May to 3 June 2022. This edition will bring artists from Cambodia, Thailand, Taiwan, and France to perform and open a productive dialogue with students to inspire them in pursuing their dreams through the arts.

The EAC News team went to Siem Reap to see Phare’s performance and discuss the arts as well as how they overcame Covid-19 to reignite Tini Tinou.

“Tini Tinou” means “here and there” in Khmer. It is a six-day festival to showcase performances and engage festival goers in the arts, free performances, and local food delicacies. Tini Tinou will start on Sunday, 29 May, with a Puppet and Circus Parade across the heritage town of Battambang, and close the celebrations on Friday, 3 June, with a final concert by the artists of Klapyahandz.

The festival’s aim is to bring together artists to share experiences, participate in workshops, and, most importantly, inspire young people, engage the local community, and promote arts in Cambodian society, bringing greater unity and understanding of shared values.

Craig Dodge, the Director of Sales and Marketing for Phare, The Cambodian Circus, said that when Covid-19 hit, it was a real shock to the system because Phare’s profits go back to supporting the school in Battambang to provide free academic and artistic education, and more. What got them through the pandemic was the people who continued to believe in their mission, and sacrifices made by the artists and staff.

He said, “It was through, largely through, the support of those who really believe in the project as well as a lot of sacrifices by the artists and the staff, and everybody understood. I mean nobody was really unrealistic about it. Everybody knew. So many people, who could, took voluntary leave to go back to their hometown to be with their family, the people who stayed agreed to work at reduced hours with reduced pay. And then now, things are kind of coming back, and because we had all gone through that together. There’s a solidarity to it.”

Viban Kong, a Phare Circus Artist, was thankful that he could go to the Phare Ponleu Selpak school in Battambong even during the pandemic, to keep his body in shape and in preparation for shows in Siem Reap when they restart.

He said, “In Battambang, there’s a [Phare Ponleu Selpak] school where we can go rehearse so that we can strengthen our bodies in order to perform back in Siem Reap [when the shows start again].”

Rasikh, a circus goer, loved the circus and aspires to be like the performers one day.

He said, “This show is very nice because all the gymnastics look very high. I also want to do that [one day].

Now that Cambodia has fully reopened the country, including lifting quarantine mandate for those who are fully vaccinated, Phare Ponleu Selpak is reigniting the Tini Tinou International festival, with much fun and laughter planned for everyone, even despite the short preparation time they had, with the support of Battambang provincial governor.

“Organizing art festivals is part of Phare’s strategy to bring arts to the people and engage with the community to build cultural identities around shared heritage. We hope festivals like this will raise Battambang’s profile as the creative arts and cultural hub of Cambodia,” shared Osman Khawaja, the Director of Phare Ponleu Selpak.

This year’s festival is sponsored by La Region Occitanie, Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie and the Taiwan Ministry of Culture, and is co-organized with Phare, The Cambodian Circus.

Watch this space for the upcoming Spotlight edition on Phare, The Cambodian Circus.

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