An impressive dance premier in Saigon Opera House

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SaigonTimes English - 47 month(s) ago 7 readings

Saturday’s performance in the Saigon Opera House began with a minute’s silence for the victims of the Japanese earthquake. Then followed a two-part program, chamber music in the first half and a new ballet by the HBSO Ballet in the second.

An impressive dance premier in Saigon Opera House

By Bradley Winterton in HCMC

Saturday’s performance in the Saigon Opera House began with a minute’s silence for the victims of the Japanese earthquake. Then followed a two-part program, chamber music in the first half and a new ballet by the HBSO Ballet in the second.

First came the slow movement from Chopin’s late Cello Sonata, played with feeling by Nguyen Tan Anh (principal cellist of the HBSO Symphony Orchestra) and Pham Dieu Thao (piano). The most substantial work before the interval, however, was Cesar Franck’s Violin Sonata, played complete by the HBSO Symphony Orchestra’s concertmaster Tang Thanh Nam and Eun Young Joo (violin and piano respectively). It was a searching and tender rendition, and an encore allowed for a more vigorous, bravura display than Cesar Franck allowed.

Less well-known was Rachmaninov’s early Trio No:1, “Elegiaque”. This substantial one-movement chamber piece has been overshadowed by his later piano works, and the three soloists - violinist Nguyen Truc Thuyen (the orchestra’s vice-concertmaster), Nguyen Tan Anh again, and pianist Ly Giai Hoa – carried it off with aplomb.

But it was the premier of the HBSO Ballet’s new work, Monsoons, choreographed by Ha The Dung, director of Ho Chi Minh City’s School of Dance, that most people were probably there for. A program note explained that the monsoon winds had human traits, and were to be presented in four seasons, albeit in the unconventional sequence of winter, autumn, spring and summer.

Some thirty dancers were involved, though the main action was portrayed by groups of seven or eight. The costumes were three-quarter length skirts for the women and tights plus smocks for the men. The colors varied with the seasons, as did the excellent lighting, but there was no scenery as such. The dance style was contemporary but with many traditional elements incorporated.

There was no doubt as to the success of Monsoons. Enthusiastic applause followed many of the sections, and the whole thirty-five minutes was characterized by a clearly apparent professionalism and panache. The pre-recorded music was both very attractive and eminently suited to a dance performance.

The feeling as we left the auditorium was of an important occasion carried off with style and confidence. Congratulations were being dispensed on all sides, and the sense of a major project having been successfully accomplished was unavoidable. One felt immensely happy that the city had such a talented and well-trained troupe of dancers, and in addition such a notably creative choreographer.

*Note: Subscriptions for HBSO events are available with a 30% discount until the end of the month. Highlights include an American and two Russian evenings and a repeat of Monsoons. For full details see the Season Program and Facebook.

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