When visiting Southeast Asia not many travelers miss out on Angkor Wat. For sure this area full of ancient temples is a highlight you shouldn’t miss. The typical itinerary is going to Siem Reap for three days, doing day trips to the historical sights. However, Siem Reap is not only Angkor Wat. Do not miss out on the great Cambodian Phare Circus. It is not a big secret anymore with nearly all hostels and hotels promoting tickets but it is surely not a show to miss.
Phare Ponleu Selpak (PPSA)
The circus has a long tradition in Cambodia. However, during the military dictatorship, this performing art died along with so many other arts. Artists among other free spirits and intellectuals were exactly the people targeted by the regime.
After the fall of the Khmer Rouge, the PPSA was founded in 1994 by nine Cambodian men returning home from a refugee camp. In the beginning, they offered free drawing classes for children, an activity that helped them heal in the camp. Soon after, they opened a school offering courses in various areas of performing arts, including circus. Today, almost 2000 pupils attend the public school. All performers of the Phare Circus graduated from the PPSA.
The mission of the PPSA
With the aim of self-sufficiency, the PPSA created the Phare Social Enterprise with three missions:
Create stable and meaningful employment opportunities for Cambodian artists.
Create a financial and sustainable business to provide income streams for the school.
Reactivate and grow the arts sector in Cambodia and promote local art in the country and overseas.
We did not really know what to expect when we entered the tent with the other visitors. But what we were about to see blew our minds. We got to see a 75-minute show packed with the pure energy of the artists. In every moment we could feel the passion of the performers that executed the show with a high sense of professionalism. We were also impressed by the variety of the show. From acrobatics to aerial silk, including breakdancing, juggling and so much more, It was simply breathtaking, and the time went by so quickly. These young Cambodian artists come from some of the most difficult social and economic backgrounds, and the circus has given them the possibility to fulfill their dreams and provide for them and their families.
This circus is such a highlight and we hope that everybody who visits Siem Reap will get their ticket. There is a daily show at 8 pm under a 330-person tent. For tickets visit Phares official website.