Promoting contemporary dance towards community

Tuesday, 2021-08-31 17:26:43
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A scene from the dance "The Nest". (Photo: NDO)
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NDO – By following the Youtube channel of Goethe Institute in Hanoi in the early days of August, the public had the opportunity to enjoy a contemporary dance combined harmoniously with music named “Cai To” (The Nest).

The dance, inspired by emotions during the fight against COVID-19 pandemic, was an event following the meaningful activities carried out by the “1648 kilomet” (1,648 kilometres) Organisation that has been operating for the arts.

With a duration of 50 minutes, the dance “The Nest” brings an artistic space of physical dance movements and music. That space was connected by strings where love, freedom and secret things form a resting place in the soul. This is a “nest” and a house where each person goes out and returns.

The work attracted viewers thanks to the flexible and delicate movements of the body and the unique transmutation of lights and music. It conveyed a humane message of the strength of family cohesion and peaceful moments of each individual amid a volatile world. In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, people should slow down together to find ways to adapt and cope with the difficulties.

“The Nest” was the result of choreographer Vu Ngoc Khai’s enthusiasm and performed by himself in collaboration with musician-DJ Tri Minh and viola artist Tran Thi Ngoc Thuy. Khai said he rekindled the idea of creating this work from mid-2020 when the world was facing the COVID-19 epidemic and at a time when his wife had just given birth. He began to think more about the houses, the roots, the distance, the cohesion, the affection and responsibility of individuals to their families and society. Khai tried to find ways to convey his thoughts via the languages of dance and music.

The arrangement and release of the dance were conducted by the “1648 kilomet” Organisation founded by Vu Ngoc Khai and his friend Van Quy Ngoc Ai after he returned to the country following many years of studying and working in Europe as an actor and choreographer for many famous theatres in the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and Switzerland.

According to the 36-year-old choreographer, the “1648 kilomet” Organisation aims to bring meaningful art programmes closer to the community. Its name represents the country’s strength as the crow flies. Since its establishment, many impressive contemporary dance works, which feature traditional cultural materials, have been released and promoted on stages across the country. The organisation’s first dance Non” (Conical hat) directed by Vu Ngoc Khai and traditional music artist Ngo Hong Quang touched the emotions of audiences both in the country and abroad through the legend of a round heaven and square earth in association with familiar cultural symbols of Vietnamese people such as the conical hat, bamboo and Ao dai (traditional Vietnamese long dress).

The second dance entitled “Day gieng” (The bottom of the well) debuted the Hanoi Dance Festival in 2019. In the performance, dance movements were combined with the sound of the Tay Son battle drum and the image of sedge mats to reproduce Vietnamese folklore festivals. Meanwhile, “The Nest” and “Bao xuyen” (IntraStorm) carved into viewers’ hearts the cultural cohesion of the members of Vietnamese families.

Returning to the beauty of traditional values and finding methods to express them through the language of contemporary dance in order to help the public love the cultural quintessence passed down by ancestors is the ethos of both choreographer Vu Ngoc Khai and the “1648 kilomet” Organisation. They hope to affirm the position of Vietnamese contemporary dance in the world of the arts.

In addition to art performances related to contemporary dance, “1648 kilomet” has regularly conducted many non-profit activities for the community. Through various events such as “From me to you” and “The arts for people”, the organisation has coordinated with a number of domestic and international artists to teach dance and the knowledge of anatomy to hearing-impaired children so that they can protect their bodies when they accidentally fall to avoid injuries.

The artists have also taught poor children in the southwest region how to make recyclables into shirts, bags and towels while introducing the languages of dance and painting to unfortunate children infected with HIV in Ho Chi Minh City.

Choreographer Vu Ngoc Khai said although live art stages have not resumed operation due to COVID-19, he and his associates have still tried their best to seek new methods to maintain their artistic activities.

The “1648 kilomet” Organisation has been coordinating with two international artists in Hanoi to make a dance video expressing the aspiration of overcoming loneliness and finding joy in each person's soul and life. It is expected to encourage the people’s spirit amid the social distancing orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Trang Anh
Translated by NDO