Vietnamese – French choreographer Sebastien Ly, who has become famous in Vietnam in recent years, has always desired to develop the country’s contemporary arts.
Choreographer Sebastien Ly
Sebastien Ly (Ly Minh Tri), who is a talented dancer and choreographer, is the Director of Kerman company as well as an art director and founder of Krossing Over Arts Festival (KOAF) – an annual international festival featuring the combination of contemporary dance and visual arts.
From encounters in real life
What did motivate you to found the Krossing Over Arts Festival?
The encounters with Vietnamese dancers and visual artists as well as art organisations, such as Dancenter and Gallery Quynh, inspired my wish to hold the Krossing Over festival.
You have combined dance with other art forms. Which art types have you not approached and do you want to approach?
Krossing Over Festival was formed thanks to initial meetings. Therefore, I have not approached any art form depending on encounters with other artists in different fields. I myself work sedentarily and think about what kind of art I would combine. Through the meetings in real life, I recognise whether I will coordinate and implement my projects with them.
This is the third year that the Krossing Over Festival has been held and its theme is ‘The Roots’. Is there great pressure for you to find and create attractive themes?
The creation of themes also comes from my observations of society and contemporary life. From the issues happening in today’s life, I will think about the most important one to develop and then exchange with other artists.
Expressing inner feelings through body language
Recently, contemporary dance has received great attention. In addition to its artistic values, this art form is considered as a psychological treatment method in the modern context. Could you explain this?
Dancing is the way to express a dancer’s inner feeling. With people who are facing difficulties and problems that they cannot say, they can express their thoughts and feelings easier through the gestures and body movements.
What is the difference between an improvised performance and predetermined dances?
This is a question related to choreography, so it’s difficult for me to give a generalised answer but I can only explain from my personal perspective. As performing improvised dance movements, dancers do not have to pay attention to the form but focus on the mental idea and significance of movements. Accordingly, dancers do not perform movements that were required earlier. They can create their dance movements right on the stage and in the presence of audiences.
You have talked about the significance of movements. Are they like codes and symbols in the dancing world?
The significance of dancing language as you said is correct in classic dance, not in contemporary dance.
In contemporary dance, choreographers have their own language. Their purpose is not to make audiences understand their plays’ messages but how to make audiences see themselves in the plays and then have emotions. That is the difference between contemporary and classic dance.
|The theme of this year's Krossing Over Festival is 'The Roots'|
You are not only a dancer and choreographer but also the Director of Kerman Arts Company. How do you harmonise your missions?
In my opinion, an artist’ work is the creation of an artwork that can make changes for audiences. I can perform and choreograph some dancing pieces or organise performances and festivals. My different jobs are geared towards a common purpose: how to use arts to change the emotions of each member of the audience and even change the community.
Do you prefer to work as a choreographer or a dancer?
It is difficult to take on both roles and now I prefer to be a choreographer.
As a choreographer, which quality of a dancer do you appreciate?
I appreciate the openness, curiosity and willingness of a dancer. I do not like artists who consider dancing as a career, not a mission.
How do you assess dancers in the Ho Chi Minh City and Vietnamese audiences?
I was very happy when organising dance performances in the City. I could see dancers full of energy. Vietnamese audiences are very open and fond of discovering arts.
Thank you very much for your interview!
Sebastien Ly, who was born and grew up in France, returned to Vietnam in 2016. He learnt his grandparents’ journey from Hue City to Vung Tau Ho Chi Minh City and then created the art work entitled ‘Thresold of memory’ which was assesed as a deep and private performance about the connection with the source.
With over 50 French and Vietnamese artists, this year’s Krossing Over Festival took place in Ho Chi Minh City from April 5-11 and introduced in Hanoi for the first time from April 13-21. The artists combined cotemporary dance with many other art forms, including visual arts, cinema, music and literature. On the occasion, many seminars and workshops on contemporary dance were also held.