Choreographer Tuyet Minh has produced several contemporary dance performances and world-known classic ballets. However, she has a dream of bringing Vietnamese characters to the ballet stage.
Minh is working with the Vietnam Dancers’ Association and the HCM City Ballet Symphony Orchestra and Opera (HBSO) to stage Ballet Kieu, a new ballet based on Truyện Kiều (The Tale of Kieu), the 18th century literary masterpiece by the great poet Nguyen Du, in HCM City and Hanoi. Phuong Mai talks with Minh about her effort to fulfill her dream.
|Choreographer Tuyet Minh. Photo courtesy of HBSO|
Where did your idea of bringing Vietnamese characters to the ballet stage come from?
I began staging ballet in 2003. My first productions were classical ballets Carmen and Don Quixote. Since then, I have dreamed of staging works featuring Vietnamese characteristics and culture.
I love Vietnamese literature and arts. I love the feelings and thoughts of Vietnamese people. I have learned a lot from great people like President Ho Chi Minh, and poets Nguyen Du and Ho Xuan Huong. Their works are simple and easily understood.
I believe Vietnamese audiences, from youngsters to the elderly, can understand and feel these works when they are performed live on stage.
To foreign audiences who are acquainted with classical ballet, I think they will be interested in Vietnamese ballet, and learn about the differences, such as music, style, Oriental culture and humanitarian spirit. The shortest way to connect people is culture and art.
Why was Truyen Kieu by poet Nguyen Du your choice?
Truyen Kieu is known widely outside Vietnam and has been translated into several languages.
I wrote the screenplay for Ballet Kieu in 2018. I received investment near the end of 2019 when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out. I had time to live slowly and to look back at my life, my career and relationship with people. I saw spiritual and cultural values in Vietnamese characteristics. The solidarity and sharing became a strength to help Vietnam win the war of COVID-19.
Since then, I have learned more about the law of cause and effect, and suddenly realised poet Nguyen Du’s thoughts in Truyen Kieu. It is following your heart -- the path to happiness in a 100-year lifetime of a human being. It’s not easy to find the right path.
You live and work in Hanoi. Why did you invite HBSO to perform your ballet?
I work at the Agency of Performing Arts. I’m in charge of following activities of arts troupes in the country, so I knew that HBSO was completely suitable to my work.
HBSO has a staff of talented and experienced dancers at the appropriate age, having different personalities, such as Tran Hoang Yen, Sung A Lung, Ho Phi Diep and Dam Duc Nhuan.
HBSO’s choreographers Phuc Hung and Phuc Hai are professional and have experience in staging dance performances and ballets.
I completely trust them. We all do everything to serve the common cause of popularising Vietnamese dance in the country and abroad.
After the premiere at the HCM City Opera House last weekend, Ballet Kieu will be performed to celebrate 25 years of normalised diplomatic relations under the invitation of HCM City's Vietnam – US Friendship Association.
In August, the ballet will be brought to Hanoi as a celebration for the National Congress of the Vietnam Dancers Association. I expect the performance will be an opportunity for artists in the south and the north to learn more about each other. I also want to introduce young ballet talents of Vietnam to nationwide audiences.
In Vietnam, ballet dancers have difficulties in developing their career. What can you do to help them?
Ballet is still not popular in Vietnam, so ballet dancers face challenges in developing their talent and career.
Vietnam now has a young generation of ballet dancers such as Yen, Nhuan and Diep. They have received recognition for their contributions to the country’s dance industry with the title of Meritorious Artist. However, most Vietnamese dancers do not have many chances to demonstrate their talent.
|Artist Tran Hoang Yen in the role of Kieu in Ballet Kieu. Courtesy Photo of HBSO|
I plan to bring Ballet Kieu to compete in the National Music and Dance Festival 2020. It will be an opportunity for dancers to show their talent and collect prizes.
In future, I want to stage Ballet Kieu frequently, like the À Ố Show, so dancers have more chances to express themselves on stage. I also want to turn the work into a cultural highlight of HCM City and a destination for foreign visitors. VNS
Meritorious Artist Tuyet Minh once shared that she wanted to adapt Vietnamese classic literary works via the language of ballet.