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WASHINGTON, Oct. 2 - Six members of Cambodia's Royal Ballet have decided to abandon the troupe and seek residency in the United States following a 12-city U.S. tour, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported. Forty-two members of the Royal Ballet of Cambodia arrived in the United States Aug. 2, appearing across the country before three final performances at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., on Friday and Saturday. Six members left behind a letter before their scheduled flight home from Newark International Airport on Monday, however, indicating that they planned to remain in the United States, according to the tour's artistic director, Proeung Chhieng. "As a teacher I feel so sad, because I have trained them since they were young and these people were very talented," said Proeung Chhieng, vice rector and dean of choreographic arts at the Royal University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh. "In the letter they left with us, they said they were sorry but they had to leave the group," he said. "The young people say America is a land of opportunity - they might be able to further their studies here or make some money and send it back home." Those who stayed behind were dancer Kum Pheak Neary, dancer Peou You Sady, dancer Cham Roeun Sophea, musician Nol Som Bun, musician Khuon Chhoy, and stage manager Has Seila, RFA reported. A seventh member had previously obtained permission to remain an extra week in the United States to visit relatives. "In this country they respect freedom. They respect human rights," Nol Som Bun told RFA, explaining his decision to remain in the United States. Since the fall of the Khmer Rouge in 1979, artists have worked to reconstruct Cambodia's traditional dance and music. Dance has long played a critical role in Cambodian culture, notably as an expression of prayer and prophecy. Radio Free Asia (RFA) is a private, nonprofit corporation broadcasting news and information to listeners in those Asian countries where full, accurate, and timely news reports are unavailable. Created by Congress in 1994 and incorporated in 1996, RFA aims to deliver such news reports - along with opinions and commentaries - and to provide a forum for a variety of voices and opinions. RFA currently broadcasts in Burmese, Cantonese, Khmer, Korean, Lao, Mandarin, the Wu dialect, Vietnamese, Tibetan, and Uyghur. It adheres to the highest journalistic standards and aims to exemplify accuracy, balance, and fairness in its editorial content.


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