Dao Tan Awards honours the traditional culture

Held again after a four-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the award was named after cultural celebrity Dao Tan, who was an outstanding poet, a Tuong (classical drama) composer and an artisan of Vietnam, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, who continued creating a driving force and inspiring art units, writers and artists to be more persistent during the journey of preserving and promoting the traditional culture of the nation.
At the awards ceremony (Photo: NDO)
At the awards ceremony (Photo: NDO)

Dao Tan Award was initiated by the Research Institute for the Conservation and Development of Ethnic Culture, in collaboration with the Vietnam Civilisation and Culture Magazine in 2000.

This is a prestigious award to honour collectives and individuals with outstanding theatrical, literary, painting and musical works, who have made positive contributions to the process of cultural exchange and integration of the country, based on the preservation and promotion of traditional cultural and artistic values.

Over the past 20 years, many famous writers, artists, and scholars have been honoured to receive this noble award, such as Prof. Tran Van Khe, musician Nguyen Vinh Bao, researcher Mich Quang, musician Thuan Yen, Prof., Dr. Nguyen Thuyet Phong, Prof., Dr. Thai Kim Lan, People’s Artist Dam Lien and People's Artist Bach Tuyet.

With the honour of 15 individuals and 5 groups, Dao Tan Award has brought many imprints and inspirations to practitioners of national traditional culture, as well as the public.

With the honour of 15 individuals and 5 groups, Dao Tan Award has brought many imprints and inspirations to practitioners of national traditional culture, as well as the public.

According to journalist Nguyen The Khoa, Deputy Director of the Research Institute for Conservation and Promotion of Ethnic Culture and Editor-in-Chief of Vietnam Culture and Civilisation Magazine, the remarkable feature of this year’s Dao Tan Award is the honour of not only professional art units but also excellent semi-professional art troupes.

That’s why the Tuong Troupe of Ke Gam Village in Xuan Thanh Commune, Yen Thanh District, Nghe An Province, where the love for Tuong has always been nurtured through many generations and Tuong Club in Thach Loi Commune, Cam Giang District, Hai Duong Province, a rare amateur Tuong unit born in the 1960s of the 20th century, were awarded the Dao Tan Award this year.

The recognition of two semi-professional art units that have made great contributions to the preservation, promotion and development of Tuong, in localities that are not the homeland of this art form, is of great significance in preserving, transmitting and promoting the traditional cultural identity of the nation among the community today.

Thanks to this year’s Award, the public also has the opportunity to better understand the contributions of many individuals in the persistent and silent journeys to spread the traditional cultural values of the nation, such as Associate Professor, PhD, painter Doan Thi Tinh who has diligently researched and honoured the beauty of Vietnamese traditional costumes for the past half-century.

Since the first research book on Vietnamese costumes entitled “Learning about Vietnamese costumes” (1987), painter Doan Thi Tinh has released dozens of books and research works related to Vietnamese costumes from traditional to modern, from life to the stage. They have been highly appreciated by experts. In addition to studying fine arts theory, she also designed costumes for many famous theatrical plays and films.

Artist Phan Thanh Liem, creator and excellent performer of the miniature water puppet theatre in the country and abroad for more than 20 years, was also another example. As the seventh-generation descendant of a family with a tradition of water puppetry in Rach village, the famous water puppet cradle of Nam Dinh Province, artist Phan Thanh Liem soon realised the limitations of the large water puppet theatre model, which is bulky and difficult to move. He tinkered with the creation of a miniature water puppet stage model, then brought Vietnamese traditional water puppets to tour around the country and more than 20 countries around the world, contributing to promoting the unique features of Vietnamese water puppetry to the world.

The journey of photographer Nguyen Dinh Toan, who has long been given the title of the “Governor of Vietnam's Artists and Photo Bank” and received this year’s Dao Tan Award, is also a story of the passion and sacrifice of the artist. That is also the story of artist Binh Tinh, who suddenly suffered a “blow of fate” when he had to suffer extreme pain as many of his relatives, who were veteran artists of Huynh Long Ancient Tuong and Cai Luong (reformed theatre) Art Troupe, died during the struggle with the COVID-19 pandemic. She alone had to take the arduous task of reviving Huynh Long Ancient Tuong and Cai Luong Art Troupe, maintaining the troupe's activities and attracting the audiences back to the ancient Tuong stage.

Interestingly, through this year’s Dao Tan Award, the audiences had the chance to access unique new artworks that have a resonance between tradition and modernity, including the two songs “Immersed in your love forever” and “Don’t think” by musician Dinh Tham, that was inspired by the life and thought of General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong.

Besides, there is also the script titled “The 72nd Letter”, which is about President Ho Chi Minh. It was written by playwright Hoang Thanh Du and staged by Le Ngoc Stage on the occasion of President Ho Chi Minh’s birthday in 2022. Until the occasion of Uncle Ho’s birthday anniversary in 2023, the play has resonated with nearly 100 performances in Hanoi, Hai Phong, Da Nang, Thai Binh and Ha Giang. The play was awarded the Special Prize at the International Experimental Theatre Festival in 2022 and was assessed by the experts as one of the best theatrical works about Uncle Ho over the past 40 years.

Interestingly, through this year’s Dao Tan Award, the audiences had the chance to access unique new artworks that have a resonance between tradition and modernity

As one of 15 recipients of this year's Dao Tan Award, People's Artist Trinh Thuy Mui, Chairwoman of the Vietnam Stage Artists Association, was honoured as the Best Theatrical Director. She said: “This award was recognised based on both artistic work and dedication. I feel that I need to take more responsibility in creating high-quality works and training many young artists, to continue the spread of traditional arts. I hope the Dao Tan Award will continue to be maintained so that artists and writers will have more motivation to create and dedicate”.