Incense fills the air as you file in to the church hall in which this takes place, immediately setting the atmosphere and mood. Then, each holding candles, the young troupe of male and female performers come on stage whilst live traditional music and singing play behind them. Then, after a simple yet beautiful temple ceremony, the show proper begins.
Elegant and evocative temple dances, joyous and uplifting drumming, masked dance routines between monkeys and birds, traditional folk dances – each segment of the show is as stunning as the last. Wearing gorgeously colourful traditional costumes, the young performer look energetic, happy and – most notably during the temple dance – beautiful.
Towards the end of the show, two of the performers hold a large white sheet onto which a video is projected, explaining the background of the youths we have just spent a memorable 50 minutes enthralled by. Most with parents and family killed in past conflicts and living in poverty-stricken condition, they are all members of a school which tries to teach youngsters the tradition and culture of their country, to ensure it is not forgotten. Based on the performance, they have been taught well, as the dancing, music, singing and attitude of the troupe is faultless.
At the end, the entire company line up at the exit and create an uplifting cacophony of drum and cymbals, each one bowing and saying thank you to us as we file past them. Impossible to leave without a smile, then – and equally hard to not be immensely touched and uplifted by the whole performance.