KVT gatecrashes and is rewarded
Dao Anh Khanh has done it again in the intriguing surrounds of his stilt house on the old flood plain of the Duong, in a village that is rapidly losing itself in suburban sprawl. Here, on the year’s first balmy night, up a paved laneway that for the night became home to a thundering herd of glinting, full throttlingly expensive Harley Davidson’s, a theatrical event that was intended, I hear, to be an intimate gathering and which became the target of a thousand eager viewers, blossomed and blooomed under the direction of the master of extravaganzas.
I guess many foreigners in the audience were not around to see Khanh’s grand happenings in the same alley (minus a house or two) in 2010, especially the opener that had my blood racing and my mind whirling.
But I was glad I got there early on Friday night. Got a good ringside seat on the ground with the wriggling, squirming and excited kids while the majority had to push for vantage spots in the dense and deeply packed crowd. Nearly didn’t get in as we didn’t realize that it was invitation only but a bit of blustering got us past the phalanx of security people.
The buzz in the local language press was pretty high so, as should be, a lot of Vietnamese were like us and determined to grab a vantage spot.
Now I know that Dao Anh Khanh loves to play with fire – physically, metaphorically and teasingly, so I was excited by the smell of kerosene that hung …like an aphrodisiac if you were a pyromaniac… in the very humid night air.
After the necessary speeches and enthusiastic translation followed by a prolonged overture of identifiable music, those maestros of sound, Tri Minh and Vu Nhat Tan were given the nod and from their platform overlooking the action they began playing their excellent and excellently resounding new music composition which was an oustanding feature of the night….as it invariably is.
Here’s my translation of the Synopsis: The theatrical cum dance plus installation plus + + piece was performed in a rectangular arena barred like a cage. Inside the bars, as the music started, three performers clad from head to toes in paper money or magazine advertisements or celebrity faces, and plastic wrapping,- probably to represent us all imprisoned in a shallow material world and out of touch with a natural environment, began to slowly tear the stuff away until they were stripped bare and were like frustrated birds in a aviary.
As the dance progressed a child joined in the pathos while the male of the species descended a flaming ladder that stretched up into the velvet night sky….a phoenix sent from the gods! He effortlessly entered the worldly cage with a flaming, avenging and cleansing fire torch and set the earthly world alight, releasing the females and the juveniles into metaphoric flight and freedom above the heads of the audience. One was curled in a world globe shaped cage, perhaps to represent the deliverance of earth from the machinations of greed and destruction or maybe to represent the dawning of a new innocence ready to be born from the womb of mother earth.
Unfortunately the kerosene soaked ropes that represented the bars of the cage failed to ignite (probably due to a combination of evaporation during the lengthy prologue and water saturation from the very humid air). However, anyone with a sliver of poetry in their beings would have seen the conflagration in their mind’s eye and gasped at the audacity of it all.
Another enjoyable night near the banks of the limpid Duong… and the little kids sitting near me were mesmerized for the whole performance… not even thinking of toilet breaks.
The army of official photograpers were kept reined in which was a blessed relief.
Good stuff Anh Khanh and team, and I hope the poor mountain kids benefited from the donations.
|Kiem Van Tim is a keen observer of life in general and the Hanoi cultural scene in particular and offers some of these observations to the Grapevine. KVT insists that these observations and opinion pieces are not critical reviews. Please see our Comment Guidelines / Moderation Policy and add your thoughts in the comment field below.|