Chamroeun Yin

Chamroeun Yin was born in the province of Battambang, Cambodia, in 1957. He received his initial training in Khmer folk arts from his father, a carpenter and cabinetmaker who crafted the ritual furniture and objects needed for weddings and in Buddhist temples, as well as everyday artifacts.

Yin came to America as an artistic refugee as part of the Khmer Classical Dance Troupe, which toured the nation to great acclaim in 1981-1982. The troupe settled in the Washington, D.C., area but eventually disbanded as artists had to find ways of making a living. Mr. Yin moved to Philadelphia in 1989. Here he works in several mediums. He is a teang ka (ritual beautician), someone who creates wedding costumes and makes the bride and groom “beautiful like the king and queen.” He teaches Khmer court dance and mask-making to Khmer youth, and performs regularly. He continues to develop his artistry, devising new ways to make items such as dance crowns out of laminated cardboard and papier mâché, which adds to the community’s growing collection of dance costumes.

Yin has been recognized by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the Dance Advance program as a master dancer. He has received grants to teach classical Khmer dance to apprentices in the local community and to pursue his own work in both dance and crafts. He has also organized, choreographed, and presented the annual dance performances for the Khmer New Year before audiences of about 500 people.