News / Calendar
Chronology / Other Projects
MADISON NOW / work in progress (2024)
The Post Confinement Travelogue(2023)
Rewind Song (2021)
Rolling (2019)
The Umbrellas of Phnom Penh(2017 / 2018)
Fassbinder, Faust and the Animists (2017)
Dance Portraits - Cambodia (2016)
Asutorito Endoruwaitowith Astrid Endruweit(2016)
Galaxy Khmer / Portrait Series Battambangwith The Cambodian Space Project(2014)
Portrait Series Battambang - Installment 1 (2012)
Burgportraits Vienna(2011)
Portrait Series Rotterdam(2010)
Portrait Series Istanbul(2010)
Death, Dance and Some Talk(2010)
Portrait Series Berlin (2007)
The Biography Remix with Marina Abramovic (2004)
Portrait Series. Alone / Gregoire(2004)
The H.C. Andersen Project – Tales and Costumes (2003)
Portraits 360 Sek (2002)
Total Masala Slammer – Heartbreak No. 5 (2001)
pigg in hell (2000)
Out of Sorts (1999)
Frankula (1998)
Planet Lulu (1997)
Solo with Charlotte Engelkes (1995)
Daniel and the Dancers (1994)
Rough (1994)
Jack’s Travelogue / La Prison des Femmes (1992)
Fast Forward /Bad Air und so…(1991)
Rewind Song (1989)
Pressure (1987)
Return of Sensation (1984)
White Out (1982)
Snapping, Computing and Performing (1981)
Maniac Productions(1975–1979)

MADISON NOW / work in progress (2024)


© Oyen Rodriguez© Oyen Rodriguez© Oyen Rodriguez© Oyen Rodriguez© Oyen Rodriguez© Oyen Rodriguez© Oyen Rodriguez
© Oyen Rodriguez

Michael Laub and the Cambodian dancer-choreographer Vanthy Khen are collaborating on a new project attempting to merge the timeless elegance of Cambodia’s classical movements with the Madison dance. The latter originated in the US in the sixties, has featured through the years in films, notably Bande à part, and remains a popular dance form in Cambodia, which has a particular take on it. The original contemporary soundtrack is by Cambodia-based British musician/producer Mute Speaker.

Laub, who is noted for his interest in portraiture, includes biographical inserts of various cast members into the choreography. Madison Now's cast comprises professional and independent dancers, teachers, and students from the Secondary School of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh and Phare Ponleu Selpak, an NGO school dedicated to the arts in Battambang. The project consists of the results of workshops held in Phnom Penh and Battambang.


Produced by Phare Ponleu Selpak and the French Institute of Cambodia

Directed by: Michael Laub
Choreography: Michael Laub and Vanthy Khen
With: Vanna Chhoeun, Pisey Dos, Rossika Khen, Vanthy Khen, Rapech Loek, Theara Nem, Keokanitha Phalla, Chhorda Phorn, Ratanak Phorn, Sinak Sem, Chantrea Tob, Sreythy Touch, Sothydacharline Vanthan, Sreyneang Vorn, Sreynich Yoeun and Sarann You.
On video: Vat Daravatey
Sound: Elie Ommering
Videos: Oyen Rodriguez
Light: Kosal Sam
Light support: Sothean Thea
Technical support:  Vannak Chhuon, Otdom Duk, Borin Kor, Chetral Ol and Sren Sreo
Costumes: Veng Theavy and the cast
Executive production management: Coralie Morillon
Production management: Reaksmey Yean
Production Assistant: Heang Huot
Music: Mute Speaker
with additional track Astronomy Class
Supported by the Canadian International School, Kylat Events and Analog
Special thanks Mathieu Ly, Michael Stolhofer and Laya Morillon Rodriguez
For Chanthy Kak


Sotheavy Nou for When in Phnom Penh, March 2024

Dancing on the Edge

Strap: Anti-illusionist theatre and traditional Cambodian dance combine as two creative powerhouses reimagine the iconic Madison dance in their latest performance.Words: Sotheavy NouWhen two seasoned choreographers take a classic dance imbued in Khmer culture with contemporary and avant-garde styles, magic unfolds. Enter ‘Madison Now.’ Lead by director-choreographer Michael Laub and Cambodian dancer-choreographer Vanthy Khen, this groundbreaking showcase slated for the beginning of March promises to redefine Cambodian dance in ways that defy convention. With original compositions and unexpected performances, this project serves as a vibrant awakening to the essence of dance, all while celebrating the timeless allure of passion and joy.Michael Laub, a pioneering figure in avant-garde stage direction, contemporary dance choreography, and video art, brings decades of artistic expertise to this latest showcase. His groundbreaking work has been featured at prestigious events worldwide, and his minimalist approach and innovative productions have captivated audiences around the globe. Michael has graced esteemed platforms such as the Venice Biennale of 1984, the Festival d’Avignon of 2005, and the Burgtheater in 2011. His avant-garde works have also enraptured audiences at the ImPulsTanz Vienna International Dance Festival and Hebbel am Ufer (HAU) Berlin. Often lauded as a minimalist, he is celebrated as a pioneer in the realm of anti-illusionist theatre.The performances are done in a minimalist way,  a reflection of Michael’s signature style. Dancers are dressed in their own clothes, allowing their personalities to shine through as part of the story. Known for his passion for portraiture, Michael weaves the true stories of the cast members into the choreography, adding each performance with a personal touch. “I hate artistic conventions,” Michael says. “But I do respect classism, which is timeless — I find Khmer traditional dance the most elegant, dignified form of dance and I think it’s totally timeless.”

Through his latest projects, he seeks to showcase Cambodia’s classical movements with the energetic flair of the Madison dance, creating an experience that’s equal parts homage to tradition and celebration of creativity.Originating in the United States, the Madison dance found its way to Cambodia in the swinging 60s, where it quickly became a cultural phenomenon. Meanwhile, Vanthy Khen, with her background in classical folk and contemporary dance since childhood, adds her own cultural heritage and artistic vision to the stage. As a freelancer as well as a teacher and choreographer for the Ministry of Arts and Culture in Cambodia, Vanthy seeks to bridge Cambodia and the global dance scene. “We aim to show Western and Khmer movements together into a single Madison step,” she says.In a partnership spanning over a decade, Michael and Vanthy have collaborated on numerous projects, including “Galaxy Khmer,” highlighting their shared commitment to pushing artistic boundaries and bridging cultural divides. “Cambodia is the only country where the Madison is still an actual dance because Cambodians have their own take on it,” Michael explains. This concept aligns perfectly with his postmodern perspective, or even the pop concept of reinterpreting existing elements into something fresh and original. To him, Cambodians have transformed the Madison dance by blending various influences, resulting in a truly innovative creation.The 50-minute performance will take place in an impressive theatre equipped with a digital screen. With improved facilities and advanced recording capabilities, Michael is excited to undertake more projects in Cambodia, leveraging the country’s rich cultural heritage and vibrant creative community. The limited performances are set for March 1st and 2nd. Prepare to witness the performance that will make you rethink the future of Cambodia’s dance at the John Crawford Theatre, Canadian International School of Phnom Penh in Koh Pich. Featuring a diverse cast of performers, including seasoned professionals, independent dancers, and budding talents from Phnom Penh’s Secondary School of Fine Arts and Phare Ponleu Selpak, “Madison Now” is poised to be a spectacular showcase of talent and innovation.

Michael Stolhofer, curator of ImPulsTanz - Vienna International Dance Festival
 Michael Laub has been working in Cambodia for 13 years. He is close to the country, its people, culture and history. Now he created a play on Cambodia for the big stage. It turned out to be a dance performance with 16 Cambodian dancers and impulsive Cambodian hop, hip hop and music by Mute Speaker.
Madison Now brings classical Cambodian dance movement that still has a ubiquitous presence in cultural and social life today, together with Madison, an American fashion dance of the 50s. Just as Apsara - depictions of which can already be found in the temples of Angkor Wat - has shaped the identity of Cambodia for centuries to this day, the Madison has become a cultural possession and stayed alive in various variations in Cambodian clubs, ball rooms, family celebrations and parties. With the unique mixture of the two dances, Michael Laub and Vanthy Khen succeed in creating exciting new movements and in illuminating the reality of today's Cambodian society. Laub takes the point of view of a contemporary youth that is still rooted in the tradition and tragic history of the country but frees itself into a new era.
The piece dances between the precision of classical Cambodian dance and the openness of Madison Pop, between the strictness and trauma of an old culture that was wiped out in the genocide of the Khmer Rouge and the playful, unencumbered naivety of a youthful Tik Tok scene for whom wokeness, queerness and diversity are a matter of course.
Laub has created a dynamic structure, a rhythmic flow in which the young ensemble dances and plays their own reality authentically and convincingly, also using Laub’s method of personal stage-portraying. Madison Now is a vibrant dance piece, energetic and touching, by a dedicated group of splendid young dancers, their joy of moving, and amazing choreographic variations by Laub and Cambodian Vanthy Khen that catapult MADISON and classical Cambodian dance movements into the NOW of the 21st century.


Reaksmey Yean, independent art curator, writer and researcher. Adjunct lecturer of art histories ant CamTech University, NUM International College, and Phnom Penh University of the Arts.

In Madison Now—a contemporary dance-theater directed by Michael Laub and choreographed by Vanthy Khen and the director—the body of 16 Cambodian actors, circus performers, and dancers of mixed styles (hip hop, folks, and classical) territorializes the multi-temporality of which past, presence and future collide creating a microcosm that is of Cambodia: it is as much historical as coeval and as much real as fictive.
In this staging, the theatrical illusion has been repressed. The happenings on stage constitute new realities, which, at first glance, seem unrelated and contradictory, resulting from Laub’s widely known approach to directing—découpé, or cut-up technique, an aleatory literary technique in which a written text is cut up and rearranged to create a new one. However, as disjointedness as each scene may seem, through and with music serving as a narrative function, the strangeness coheres into a convincing and complete sequence, as the director usually reminds his dancers, “it is with the rhythm that all fragments conjoin, becomes whole.”  In Madison Now, the story(ies), if there is one at all, is being transpired through the aesthetics, movements, and attitudes of the millennium-old Cambodian classical dance that is closely associated with Cambodian national identity and cultural preservation practices and of Madison, a line dance that originated in the United States, and through the voices and biographies of each cast. Here, individuality is accentuated and retained in an otherwise group effort—a collective or pluralistic society that might otherwise not fully celebrate individuality. Since the 1980s, Laub’s interest in portraiture and individual stories has become central in his creative process and staging, permitting, at once, the personal voice to reverberate and the caste to feel the ownership over their performance. 
A series of (hi)stories, landscapes, concurrences, and temporalities in the form of videos, dances, music, and texts are being injected into the body of the performance, thus highlighting the fragmentation rather than harmonization. Resulting from the découpé practice, the unharmoniousness in Madison Now reminds the viewer of their surroundings and the reality of life: one must experience all that there is to it, not every day a happy day, and according to the Buddha, life is suffering. While each scene presents a new surprise, looking at the scene that gives one a feel of déjà vu is like visiting an old friend one has not seen for a while. One remembers the general appearance, the general outlines, of the image, but not the details. As the scene unfolds, one greets a remembered image with pleasure or disturbance, but it is a pleasure or disturbance that is enhanced at each viewing by discovering details that one has either forgotten or never noticed before. For instance, the appearance of the Tik-Tok video in the middle of the play is very telling.
Dedicated to the late Kak Chanthy, a once-celebrated Cambodian singer, Madison Now memorializes the intimate relationship of Michael Laub with Cambodia and Cambodian artists while materializing the otherwise unrecorded 13 years of experiences with the country he feels like home. In a way, the performance is the director’s experiences and perceptions of Cambodia and its socio-economic landscape unfolding on stage for the first time, at once, strange, chaotic, beautiful, and timeless (symbolized by the not-out-of-fashion Khmer classical dance).