Mean Sopheap, Hemakcheat Theater, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

As a young woman Mean Sopheap lived in the Pailin province of Cambodia and escaped the Khmer Rouge onslaught by fleeing to the Koa-I-Dang refugee camp in what is now the Sa Khaeo province of Thailand. It was in this camp that she studied classical Khmer dance for the first time and was singled out for her dancing skills. In her prime she was well known for her extraordinary grace and by most accounts a stunning beauty. The U.S. government awarded her a scholarship in 1982 and invited her to perform in Los Angeles, California. She could have stayed in California but she chose to return to her family in Cambodia only to discover seven of her ten children had been killed by the Khmer Rouge. After one of her sons squandered her savings on drugs and gambling her life began a slow brutal downward spiral that left her living in the squalid conditions of the Hemakcheat Theater up until the time of her recent death. She is survived by her three remaining sons.