Born to Khmer refugees in the United States, Prumsodun Ok rose from the poverty and violence-stricken inner city of Long Beach to become the new face of Khmer dance. He uses art to heal, illuminate, and empower, reviving the spirit of his people from the enduring forces of conflict. Seen by many as a hero of Khmer culture, the artist, teacher, and writer works to shape a world where everyone can blossom into their fullest selves.
Ok’s interdisciplinary performances contemplate the “avant-garde in antiquity,” and have been presented across three continents. In 2013 he initiated Children of Refugees, a program of talks and performances by artists, activists, and scholars, to raise awareness for the Syrian refugee crisis. His book The Serpent’s Tail has been lauded by Associate Professor Saori Hagai (Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto) as an “in-depth account of the historical diversity, contemporary dynamism, and future image of [Khmer classical dance] . . . a colorful and vivid interpretation of the value of dance to contemporary Cambodian society and its contributions to humanity.”
Ok is the recipient of grants and fellowships from TED, MAP Fund, and Surdna Foundation, and has been a guest speaker and choreographer at California Institute of the Arts, UCLA, and Santa Monica College. He was also associate artistic director of Khmer Arts, a member of the Alliance for California Traditional Arts’ Board of Directors, and an artist in residence at the Baryshnikov Arts Center in New York. Ok is the founding artistic director of Prumsodun Ok & NATYARASA, Cambodia’s first gay dance company, and was named an LGBT+ Creative Leader of Tomorrow for The Dots’s and WeTransfer’s Championing Diversity. His celebrated TED Talk has been translated into more than fifteen languages and viewed more than 2.5 million times across various platforms.
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