HCMC – Following its return after the coronavirus closure last Saturday, in which the last five minutes of Beethoven’s titanic Fifth Symphony were repeated as an encore to an almost full house, the HCMC Ballet, Symphony Orchestra and Opera (HBSO) is presenting the premier of a new ballet, Kieu, on June 20 at 8 p.m. at the Saigon Opera House.
It’s based on The Tale of Kieu by the poet Nguyen Du, a masterpiece in Vietnamese literature which has been translated into more than 20 languages. This special work has been commissioned by the Vietnam Association of Dancers.
The script for Ballet Kieu has been adapted by Tuyet Minh. Both Tuyet Minh and Nguyen Phuc Hung are in charge of the staging and choreography.
“When it comes to choreographing this ballet work, it is important to combine an expression of the Vietnamese spirit with Eastern culture and European dance techniques,” said Tuyet Minh. “As a result, the female dancers must be well trained in pointe shoes and the male dancers must have the skillful techniques required in classical ballet and incorporate these into their dance movements to convey the inner spirit of the work.”
HBSO has been entrusted with staging and performing Kieu. It’s a large art project, nurturing new artistic ideas based on standard modern ballet techniques. It also aspires to convey the quintessence of Vietnamese culture and traditions.
Nguyen Phuc Hung commented “What ballet dancers get from a big work is having their skills raised to a whole new level. Having performed many great works from the past, HBSO’s dancers have proved that they have such outstanding skills.
“Due to financial restraints, there are not many big projects like this one where the artists can fully express their abilities. This, therefore, is a great honor given us by the Vietnam Association of Dancers. It’s an opportunity to convey our ambitions, as well as to encourage the spirit of learning and creativity.”
The ballet is in 15 scenes with different psychological nuances, creating contrasts and surprises at every moment. A journey of longing to find happiness, plus a thirst for freedom and justice for all human beings, is set in a traditional society and highlights human values and the ideology of Eastern philosophy.
The accompaniment is a mix of semi-classical music and Vietnamese folk tunes. The costumes, props and visual techniques alone will, we are assured, bring a wide range of emotions to the audience.
The aim of the Vietnam Association of Dancers is to bring the quality of professional dance art in Vietnam to a higher level. Ballet is considered the most comprehensive of genres, consisting of many demanding artistic elements. Kieu, as staged and performed, will show the artistic vision of the association. It is a classical work, but it is expressed in contemporary style, evoking modern emotions, in a way that surely honors traditional values as well as being attractive as a new artistic creation.
Following the Saigon performance, Kieu will be staged again in Hanoi, at the Hanoi Opera House, on August 14.
Ticket prices in HCMC range from VND300,000 to VND650,000.
By Bradley Winterton