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Kids’ Corner

HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:
Rotary ships 1000 books north

ISE Senior students welcome younger students

‘Manohra’ Ballet benefits Thai children and nursing education

Rotary ships 1000 books north

The vice president of the Rotary Club of Taksin-Pattaya, Preben Hansen, helped organize the shipment of 1000 English language schoolbooks to the Rotary Club of Chiang Mai West. The books came from the US Navy’s USS Carl Vinson when it was here on R&R last month. The books are destined for schools on the border between Thailand and Myanmar. The president of the Rotary Club of Chiang Mai West Nipon Chakkrawut and Rotarian Preecha Wongsakul accepted the books and will distribute them in the north.

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ISE Senior students welcome younger students

Put your dancing shoes on - the new term is about to begin.

Senior students and faculty members of the International School of the Eastern Seaboard gathered at the Amari Orchid Hotel’s Henry J. Bean’s to welcome new students to the new term.

The activities included a dinner and games so that students could get acquainted at the start of the new school term.

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‘Manohra’ Ballet benefits Thai children and nursing education

story and photos by Peter Cummins

The performance of “Manohra” last week at the Thai Cultural Centre was staged on two successive days for the benefit of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Kuakarum College of Nursing.

It has been billed as Thailand’s own “Swan Lake” and, after some 14 years - it was last performed in 1987 - the ballet was back, with a brilliant array of dancers, new choreography and simply stunning costumes. Presented with a backdrop of spectacular scenery, the great sound effects and music capped a truly remarkable and memorable performance.

The “Sad Charee” dance

More than 200 professionals and children joined the Dance Centre’s School of Performing Arts version of “Manohra”, which, according to Vararom Pachimsawat, managing director of the Dance Centre, “Is a blend of Thai traditional arts and the western techniques of producing performing arts.” This marriage, contends Vararom, allows the creation of, “An adapted ballet with the elements of Thai culture in both music and choreography such as ‘The Manohra Fire Dance’ and ‘Sad Chatree’ which are adapted solely from Southern Thai traditional dance”.

The music itself, composed specifically for the ballet by Jirapan Ansawananda and Sinnapa Sarasas is also somewhat eclectic, “combining”, says Vararom, “Thai classical music with the ‘hard rock’ electric sounds of the west.”

“Manohra” is one of the Chadok Nibaat, known formally as “Pra Suton Manohra”, based on the love story of Pra Suton, a prince of Panchala City, near Himmapan Forest and Manohra, a Kinnarree (half human, half bird), a celestial creature living in Krailas Mountain.

A close-up at the “Manohra” press conference, Pacific Club

After enduring the many travails, battles and tragedies and overcoming the evil spells which inevitably befall mythological beings, Pra Suton and Manohra are finally re-united, with a great celebration of their happiness, at Krailas City.

According to a number of observers, the status of ballet in Thailand has never been better, and yet the economic crisis has taken its toll. Thanpuying Varaporn Pramoj, headmistress of the Varaporn Kanchana Ballet School, one of the Kingdom’s oldest, said recently, “The standard of teaching (ballet) has greatly improved, but we deplore the lack of backing by the government.” In the wake of the Asian financial crisis, Thanpuying Varaporn added, “Sponsors were hard to find and the 150 or so professional ballet dancers who graduate each year have a rough time...most live on short-term contracts.”

Perhaps the successful staging of “Manohra” can help focus attention on ballet in Thailand.

H. E. Anand Panyarachun, UNICEF Ambassador for Thailand observed, on behalf of UNICEF and the under-privileged Thai children, “I would like to express my appreciation to the Dance Centre, the parents of participating students, supporters and audiences for all contributions made to this “Manohra” charity ballet, in order to raise funds for UNICEF, to help the disadvantaged children and their families in Thailand.”

Such great occasions as the staging of this beautiful ballet, H.E. Anand noted, greatly help UNICEF “in continuing our programmes in Thailand, aimed at the well-being of under-privileged children and upgrading the quality of life, by enhancing the efficiency of child education and capacity building.”

H.E. Anan Panyarachun (Centre), the ballet group and sponsors, Pacific Club press conference

All these factors will eventually help the children in their consequent development “to their fullest potential enabling them to become self-reliant adults, living a quality life,” H.E. Anand concluded.

Dr. Benja Taoklam, director of the Kuakarun College of Nursing, pointed out that, “This Charity Ballet Programme, donated to the Kuakarun College of Nursing by the Dance Centre of the School of Performing Arts, will enable us to improve our capability to serve the needs of society.” It is imperative, Dr Taoklam continued, “that the college continues to improve the teaching and learning process and now we can offer a baccalaureate programme in Nursing Science. However, as with other government agencies, the limitation of resources is always a barrier to improving our services.” Such events as the “Manohra” ballet greatly benefit us - and society in general, Dr. Taoklam added.

In a pre-show presentation, Gamini Abeysekera, UNICEF representative for Thailand and UNICEF Youth Envoy, the charming Kathaleeya MacIntosh, presented mementos of appreciation to the eight sponsors, namely: Auto Tex Manufacturing, Cathay Pacific Airways, Hong Kong Ladies’ Group, Kerry Glory Flour Mills, Kokiet Group, Oilily, Proctor and Gamble Manufacturing, and The Peninsula Bangkok.

As an appendix to this report, Mr Abeysekera was at the Pattaya Mail last week for discussions with the Mail managing director, Peter Malhotra, on some possible UNICEF support for programmes to benefit children and young people on the Eastern Seaboard, particularly Pattaya and Jomtien. (See story, p.4, this issue).

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