A Deepest Blue
Prumsodun Ok is an internationally celebrated artist, teacher, writer, speaker, and producer, and founder of Cambodia’s first gay dance company. His original works have been described as “Radical Beauty.”Artist Bio
A Deepest Blue follows an artist learning how to swim, who is then pulled by a mysterious power into the unknown depths of the ocean. Encountering magnificent creatures, barrages of pollution, and the lost ghosts of merchants, slaves, and warriors, he is eventually confronted with his own fear, loneliness, and mortality. As he drowns in his internal strife, the world suddenly quakes and rumbles, a piercing ray of light shoots forth, suddenly revealing the dragon mother in all her blazing glory. Taking life from an origin myth shared by Cambodia and Japan, in which a prince descends to the bottom of the ocean to marry a dragon princess, A Deepest Blue dives into a world of history and myth, emotion and spirituality. Bringing together ancient ritual performance traditions accentuated by digital recordings and holographic animation, A Deepest Blue blurs the line between wondrous spectacle and sacred offering. It places humanity before the life-giving powers and destructive forces of nature, manifested by a dragon mother who can raise storms, tsunamis, and floods. What now will the great ancestor do to the human progeny destroying her domain? A Deepest Blue journeys from the cultural realms of Cambodia and Japan, on and through the waters of a shared Buddhist cultural sphere, into the domain of human heritage, responsibility, and action. A transportive experience of the theatrical stage, one contemplating our current social and existential imbalance, A Deepest Blue asks: what is the place and role of humanity in the scale and movement of the universe?
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Born to Khmer refugees in the United States, Prumsodun Ok rose from the poverty and violence-stricken inner city of Long Beach, CA, to become the new face of Khmer dance. He uses art to heal, illuminate, and empower, reviving the spirit of his people from the enduring forces of conflict. Seen by many as a champion of Khmer culture, he works as an artist, teacher, writer, speaker, and producer to shape a world where everyone can blossom into their fullest selves. Ok’s interdisciplinary performances contemplate “the avant-garde in antiquity” and have been performed at Currents Festival, Phnom Penh; REDCAT’s NOW Festival, Los Angeles; Za-Koenji Public Theatre, Tokyo; Camping Asia, Taipei; and CTM Festival, Berlin, among others. They have been celebrated as “a vision of elegance and grace” (The Phnom Penh Post) and “Radical Beauty” (Bangkok Post). Ok is the recipient of grants and fellowships from TED, MAP Fund, Surdna Foundation, Dance/USA, National Dance Project, and Hewlett 50 Arts Commissions, and he has been a guest speaker, choreographer, and instructor at the California Institute of the Arts; the University of California, Los Angeles; Santa Monica College; Rajabhat University, Bangkok; Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto; and the Royal University of Fine Arts, Phnom Penh. He is the founding Artistic Director of Prumsodun Ok & NATYARASA, Cambodia’s first gay dance company, which Channel NewsAsia describes as “one of the most revolutionary dance troupes in Cambodia . . . a dance troupe like no other.” Ok’s TED Talk and keynote speech at the Dance/USA 2019 Annual Conference received standing ovations, and the former has been translated into more than 20 languages and viewed millions of times across various platforms. He lives in Phnom Penh, where he pioneers work at the intersection and forefront of cultural preservation, artistic innovation, education, LGBTQ advocacy, and environmental stewardship. Ok sits on the executive committee of ខ្ញុំទទួលយក – I ACCEPT, Cambodia’s historic marriage-equality campaign.
Photo: Lim Sokchanlina.