The Return (2005)
In 2005 Jo was invited by Katie MacCabe, founder of Epic Arts in Cambodia to visit Phnom Penh for three weeks to create a piece for three disabled dancers and to support them in the development of their teaching skills. The excitement around the project was so great that the project was expanded to include five dancers and twelve musicians, who created a live performance which toured extensively around Cambodia in theatres, festivals and schools and went on to tour in Laos, Vietnam and Thailand.
Jo was joined by composer Chris Benstead, who worked with the twelve musicians to create and record the score for the piece.
The Return is a feature-length dance/documentary film by Jo Parkes and Sven O. Hill. The film was shot during a month long residency in Cambodia in October 2005 and tells the story of Kim Sathia, formerly a celebrated classical dancer, as she works towards her first performance as Cambodia’s first professional disabled dancer.Excerpts of the choreographed dance are shot in various locations in Phnom Penh and appear in 2 – 4 minute sequences; short dance films which afford a meditative and poetic representation of the themes of the film and the abilities of the group. Interviews with Sathia, her collegues and her friends intercut with the dance sequences to chart her life story: her struggle to survive the Khmer Rouge regime, the rigorous training in classical Khmer dance and subsequent celebrity as a performer, her withdrawal from life after becoming disabled, the slow return to dance and the struggle to relearn her body and overcome her shame and to perform on a stage before her former collegues once more.
Jo’s work in Cambodia has been funded by the British Embassy, Cambodia; Epic Arts; Paul Leonard and The Bishop of Southwark’s Lent Appeal.