Pamina Devi re-imagines Mozart’s opera, The Magic Flute, as a Cambodian classical dance. Sophiline Shapiro interprets this Enlightenment-era work in the style of her native country as a way to explore divergent cultural viewpoints on the meaning of revolution and the way extreme righteousness and rhetoric can lead to extraordinary cruelty. Shapiro brings to Pamina Devi a movement vocabulary of refined gestures, a series of elaborate costumes and sets, and an original score of percussive music. Working with a Phnom Penh company of classical dancers, the piece was premiered in 2006 as part of Vienna’s New Crowned Hope Festival, which celebrated the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth.
Long Beach, CA
A native of Cambodia, Sophiline Shapiro emigrated to Southern California in 1991. Her classical dance Samritechak/Othello was presented in Phnom Penh with the Royal University of Fine Arts ensemble in 2000 and has since been presented at the Venice Biennale and the Hong Kong Arts Festival. Her solo work The Glass Box, which premiered in Los Angeles in 2002, toured to Cambodia and India in 2003 and to the Bangkok Fringe Festival in 2004. Her choreography, Seasons of Migration, premiered at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center in Long Beach, CA in 2005. Among her awards are a City of Los Angeles Fellowship, Durfee Foundation Master Musician Fellowship, Fund for Folk Culture Creative Opportunities Grant, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and an Irvine Fellowship in Dance. Shapiro’s essay Songs My Enemies Taught Me was published in Children of Cambodia’s Killing Fields: Memoirs by Survivors, edited by Kim DePaul and published in 1997 by Yale University. She is the co-founder and artistic director of the Khmer Arts Academy in Long Beach.