from the festival – The Shadow Puppet Troupe of Wat Bo and their presentation of Sor Neakabas (the Magical Arrowhead Dragon). Presented at the World Financial Center’s Brookfield Place at the Winter Garden, the backdrop for the projection screen, mounted on the high-rise stage, was a view of the New York skyline. Soon the pageantry began as the performers passed through the audience to gather behind the screen, then
musicians, plus one male and one female vocalist. After an introduction with a bit of background about the Sbeik Thom (Cambodian Large Shadow Puppets), the musicians and vocalists took their place, flanking both sides of the stage. Their legendary stories were then told by dancers using the magnificently sculptured shadow puppets, and translated in English on the screen. Held in one or both hands; or by one or two dancers, the figures came to life. Taking turns in front of the illuminated screen or on the stage, in groups of twos, threes or more, the troupe told legendary stories of spirituality, belief, rescue and prosperity. The puppets “moved” quickly when the dancer’s arms shivered, they enacted a fight when the dancer’s elbows locked and released in time with each step, or they would “run” when the dancers repeated a hop-step (one knee bends while the other bent leg lifts) back and forth a couple of times. An age-old classical art form came to life—thank goodness.