Cambodia:

Did you know that King Louis XIV of France established the world’s first ballet school in 1661?
 
In fact, one of the distinctive features of ballet technique – the turnout, was introduced by the King because he loved to show off the shiny buckles on his shoes when he performed his own dances.
 
But did you know that in 2020, we have a King who is a professionally trained ballet dancer?
 
Amazing right?
 
Do you know of which country he is the king?
 
King Norodom Sihamoni of Cambodia.
 
King Sihamoni was born to love the arts. His father, the late and much-revered Norodom Sihanouk, produced 50 films during his lifetime, wrote more than 48 musical compositions and was a great advocate of traditional Khmer arts.
 
Born in 1953, Sihamoni was sent to Prague, then Czechoslovakia, at nine years old by his father. At the age of 16, he starred in Sihanouk’s film, The Little Prince. While the civil war ravaged the country in the 1970s, the prince remained in Czechoslovakia, where he went on to study at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (AMU), specialising in classical dance, music and theatre. He graduated in 1975.
 
Inspired by his film-making father, Sihamoni left Prague after his graduation, moving to North Korea to study cinematography in the capital, Pyongyang. Two years later, Sihamoni relocated to France to teach ballet, where he worked as a professor of classical dance and formed his own dance troupe, Ballet Deva.
 
He choreographed some of their performances and made two films with a dance theme.
 
He went on to live in Paris for almost two decades, becoming president of the Khmer Dance Association. In 1993, he was appointed Cambodia’s delegate to UNESCO in Paris.
 
In 2004, Sihamoni’s father abdicated for the second and final time. Sihamoni stepped into his shoes, many say reluctantly.
 
Sihanouk died in Beijing on October 15, 2012, at the age of 89.
 
Little remains known about the current king, who keeps his cards close to his chest. However, the information out there paints a picture of a humble and cultured man.
 
 

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