The Angkor Dance Troupe was started in Lowell, MA in 1986 by Tim Chan Thou, in collaboration with a small group of dancers who came to Lowell from refugee camps in Thailand, including his grandmother who was a member of the Royal Dance troupe in Cambodia, and acted as the artistic director of a troupe of dancers who came to the U.S. in 1982. . Tim Thou began to dance in 1979 while in a refugee camp. When they first resettled in Lowell they wanted to perform, teach and preserve the dancing style for future generations. As the community grew and began to create a sense of home in the United States the dance was a reminder of the beauty and spirituality of their culture.
They have an active educational exchange program with Royal University of Fine Arts (RUFA) in Phnom Penh Cambodia which has allowed them to host high-level master teachers for extended artists' residencies. As a result, they have developed an extensive dance repertoire of classical dances that date to 800 AD and lively folk dances that depict age-old harvest and courtship rituals from rural Cambodia. They have preformed at venues throughout the northeast, including First Night Boston, Yale University, Jacob's Pillow, Harvard University, Boston Dragon Boat Festival, and the White House.
In 1999 the Angkor Dance Troupe was among a select group of 10 organizations from across the country to receive the prestigious "Coming Up Taller" award from the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts. The award is the nation's top honor for exemplary arts program that serve youth.