Tchaikovsky’s ballet masterpiece “Swan Lake” was recently restaged in Hanoi in October 2019, marking the first time ever over the last 30 years that the full ballet has been performed instead of excerpts by Vietnamese dancers.
Choreographer Tran Ly Ly
Meritorious Artist, chorographer Tran Ly Ly, director of the Vietnam National Opera and Ballet Theatre (VNOB), who acted as the show’s art director, spoke about the preparation for the show as well as the VNDO’s upcoming events.
All tickets for seven shows of Swan Lake at Hanoi Opera House were completely sold out. Can you share with us about the key to the show’s success?
Choreographer Tran Ly Ly: When I took the position of the VNOB Director, I have held that it was an academic theatre. I set targets for the theatre’s development with a focus on staging ballets and operas. In 2018, we reviewed our team and operations, and then in 2019 we staged plays which can make the VNOB unique and distinguished.
To rehearse for the ‘Swan Lake’ ballet, participating ballet dancers had to spend three months practicing tirelessly with a mere pittance of VND50,000 for each training session.
Luckily, I received the whole-hearted support from artists and staff members of the VNOB, who have showed their love and devotion for the arts.
Can you tell us about some of the difficulties you experienced during the staging of the ballet?
I can name a lot of them, from expense to professionalism. But the toughest one is regarding the lack of human resources. A ballet troupe often has from 120 to 150 members, while we have only 30 dancers, requiring them to work more and work harder.
Meanwhile, the pittance for dancers still stays modest at only VND200,000 for a show. As ballet dancers can earn a monthly salary around VND3.5 million – VND4 million, many of them are discouraged and left for other better-paying jobs. We need more preferential treatment for ballet dancers.
We also had to face obstacles regarding the funding for the show. Although State funding is not enough for the ballet, I was blessed to receive sponsors from my friends. This is a valuable act between humans for a better society.
Participating ballet dancers had to spend three months practicing tirelessly to rehearse for the ‘Swan Lake’ ballet
You have done so well both as an artist and a manager. How can you balance these roles?
I find my job interesting as I can work both as artist and a manager at the same time. Some people think that they can only work as an artist, just because they have not tried another role yet.
I have met many successful entrepreneurs-artists, who have managed their work smoothly and well organised. You should give it a try rather than having a fixed mind-set that you can do only one thing at a time.
You have established your fame with notable contemporary dances, such as ‘Mot Ngay’ (One Day), ‘Cuoc Song Trong Nhung Chiec Hop’ (Life in Boxes), and ‘Sac Sac Khong Khong’ (Yes Yes No No). Do you plan to return working in the role of a choreographer in the coming time?
When I take the role as the VNOB director, I have “muted” the function as a choreographer. But I will turn it back on again soon. I have set three years to work on plans for the theatre. I just take it easy. By March 2021, I will comeback as a choreographer with projects benefiting the community at large. My bigger dreams are still ahead.
What will the VNOB bring to theatre goers in 2020?
We will tour ‘Swan Lake’ ballet across the country. We will release a musical theatre in mid-2020, and a dance project at the end of the year.