For nearly 20 years, Cambodian American Heritage, Inc. (CAHI) has provided successive generations of Cambodian-Americans with instruction in their culture and heritage, primarily in the area of Cambodian classical and folk dances.

This instruction is provided free-of-charge to the dance students. The organization relies largely on corporate and government grants and the generosity of individual donors.

With very limited financial resources, CAHI has managed to develop one of the premier Cambodian dance troupes in the United States. This program is not just a repository of cultural preservation; it is also a model for developing self-esteem and confidence among the children and young adults who participate in the program.

Accomplishments are measured in numerous ways. On the level of performances, members of the dance troupe have been privileged to perform in many diverse venues. Included in the troupe’s resumé are performances at the 150th anniversary of the Smithsonian Institution, the Freer Gallery of Art, the National Gallery of Art and presidential inaugural events. In addition, members of the troupe have performed in numerous folk art/heritage festivals throughout the greater Baltimore-Washington area.

Members of the troupe have also participated in numerous workshops at the invitation of various colleges and universities across the United States including Hunter College (NYC), the College of Connecticut, the University of Maine, the University of Hawaii, Towson State University (MD) among others. Videotaped performances of the troupe have also been used as instructional material in college dance courses.

The Dance Troupe of Cambodian American Heritage is honored to have its dance director, Madam Sam-Oeun Tes, recognized as a heritage fellow by the National Endowment for the Arts for her work in preserving the dance heritage and tradition of Cambodia here in the United States. As Madam Tes herself acknowledges, this award is for all members of the troupe who have participated as performers since 1980. It is this dedication to the art and the young people of the Cambodian American community who come forward to dance and contribute to the perpetuation and preservation of their cultural heritage that make for CAHI’s
distinguished reputation and record of accomplishment.

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