Charya Burt

Portrait of Charya   Burt

Charya Burt is a master dancer; choreographer, vocalist and teacher of Classical Cambodian Dance, the founding artistic director of Charya Burt Cambodian Dance, a dance ensemble based in San Francisco North Bay, California, USA.

Charya Burt's training began shortly after the Khmer Rouge genocide with the foremost surviving dance masters of Cambodia at the Royal University of Fine Arts, serving on the dance faculty there from 1989-1992. As a member of Cambodia’s Royal Dance Troupe, she toured nationally and internationally. After emigrating in 1993, Burt has performed throughout the USA, including LA’s Getty Museum, the Kennedy Center, San Francisco Opera House and has been featured numerous times at the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival.

Among her honors, Charya Burt is an inaugural Dance/USA Fellow, a 2022 Americans for the Arts Johnson Fellow for Artists Transforming Communities and recipient of the Isadora Duncan Award for Individual Performance. Center for Cultural Innovation and Creative Work Fund has each granted Burt multiple awards. Her work has been chronicled in KQED Arts, Cambodian’s Dark Past Behind Her, A Dancer Steps into the Light (2014), and the US Department of State’s A Living Legacy: Classical Cambodian Dance Thrives in California (2010). She has lead collaborations with Indian, Japanese and Central Asian dancers and has worked with established designers and musicians, including composers Chinary Ung and Van-Anh Vo.

In her online profile, Charya Burt wrote:

I have dedicated my life to mastering the 4000+ gestures and movements that compose the vocabulary of Cambodian Classical Dance along with the dances that make up the classical repertory. Having trained with Cambodia’s foremost surviving dance masters for over 10 years I am one of a very few who has the breadth of knowledge to insure that the preservation is authentic. I restage dances from the classical repertory, document old, soon-to-be forgotten dances and carrying on the tradition of master/apprentice relationships. I believe it is my charge to insure Cambodian communities across California and beyond safeguard an art form considered the purist expression of Cambodian cultural values for future generations.