Posts

TEDx Phnom Penh, ‘Dance Your Life Around’

In Febraury 2011, Cambodia held its first ever TEDx in Phnom Penh.

As Manager of Tiny Toones I was asked to present. Of course I wanted Tiny Toones founder ‘KK’ to speak with me but I knew he would certainly say “no.” KK is a humble and shy man. I did however manage to convince him to be recorded on video which we shot on my balcony over endless laughs (the offcuts could make a video on its own!).

Those that know me know I would never go anywhere without ‘my kids’ – the beloved staff and students of this hip hop centre for street kids – Tiny Toones. When asked to perform, my first question was, “Can I bring my kids up on stage?” which was initially met with silence. After explaining who they were and that they were not little children but teens and older… I was given permission.

Above is the TEDx presentation we did. ‘Dance Your Life Around.’

The performance by ‘my kids’ was choreographed by them under the guidance of KK.

… and yes I did write a story about the lead up to Tedx: the fear, anxiety, excitement and the ultimate performance. Sections can be read in imprint 14: ‘A Perfect Statue’ or for those who can’t be bothered reading, you can watch it in the blog video from when I performed the written story at open-mic in Thailand.

 

Kha’s unbelievable solo.

Kha and Slick’s ‘dance fight’

The team

And I couldn’t have done it without Shhort…

 

Tedx rehearsal… on my birthday

Me rehearsing on my 36th birthday at ‘sound check’.

Notice the notes in my hand? Yep, I was told off. No notes allowed! With 7 days until the real performance I assured them … no problem (with  a lump in my throat and sweaty palms).

The kids rehearsed… and dutifully bowed….

AND THEN…. they suprised me with a birthday cake! My whole gang and the organisors came out of the kithen with cake for me. 

which we all shared before going outside to play …

 

Interview by a Cambodian Princess

My interview was at the end of my working day. I hadn’t thought much of it.

At about 4pm I asked my kids in the centre to look at the radio interview request email so they could explain to me where exactly the station was. Four of them read the email and then looked me up and down and laughed.

“You can’t go dressed like that”

“Why not? It is radio, no one can see me”

“Don’t you know who Soma Norodom is?”

“Ummm, the lady who is interviewing me?”

“Think about it. What’s the name of the main road here, the really big one”

“Norodom”

Oh shit! She is Princess Soma Norodom.

Panic as I start running around the centre knowing I don’t have time to go home and change. I wash my face and take a clean ‘Tiny Toones’ work t-shirt. It’s the best I can do. I wasn’t nervous before. Now I am terrified. The segment is ‘Emerging Female Leaders in Cambodia. The Princess wants to interview me?

An hour passes of banter back and forth between Soma and I (yes we are on first name basis now) and we totally forget we are live until question time and people call in – and they did. We had an absolute blast. We discussed everything from ex-pat life in Cambodia, learning Khmer language, working with street kids, children’s rights and my upcoming TEDx talk. She is my age and one very cool and very smart lady. She is also nicknamed ‘The Rebel Princess.’

 

Later the same year I was asked to interview Soma for WuPP (What’s up Phnom Penh) magazine. She still tells people it was her favourite interview.