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5

THURSDAY

Here in the land of milk and honey, people are free to express themselves. But after the Khmer Rouge took over Cambodia, traditional dance—which uses costumes and hefty metal crowns requiring more than an hour to don—was outlawed, and dancers were persecuted. But Cambodian dance thrives in Washington, thanks to the preservation efforts of the Cambodian Network Council. Tonight, the organization’s master dancers, along with members of the Cambodian Buddhist Society, perform both folk and courtly dances depicting the lives and values of the country’s people and society. The program includes both traditional choreography and a more recent abstract glorification of Cambodian music, both based on a time-honored system of gestures and postures. Tralaok celebrates the pervasive, percussive coconut, a staple of the countryside diet and trade; other dances honor youth and beauty, and portray earthly and celestial unity. Another freedom gained: Crowns are now fashioned from leather and spangles, not metal and precious stones. At 6:30 p.m. at the Freer Gallery of Art’s steps, 12th & Jefferson Drive SW. Free. (202) 357-2700. (Karen Mitchell)