KVT – Performing in the Middle of Song Hong

KVT – Performing in the Middle of Song Hong

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KVT in rural mood

It should have been a rural market performance on  middle Island just about under Long Bien Saturday morning. However, because officialdom on the island was a little tough about their football pitch being crowded out with a lot of invaders from the suburbs,the performers decided to take a risk  and have their happening on the main path leading into the banana fields.

We missed out on seeing Nguyen Than unfold his 180m x 2m Rural Market painting- which I hope can be accomodated in the near future- but we got a really nice performance  art piece by Dao Anh Khanh and Doan Minh Hoan…nicely intimate.

Being in a rural setting with banana palms on one side and a fallow field on the other, I was ready to read all sorts of rural fecundity into the dance piece and I wasn’t let down.  At times it was very sensual. It was the type of contemporary dance piece I’d have liked to sit back and relax into and let the various interpretations wash over me.

The one my imagination kept pushing to the fore for was of a mating ritual between two storks, those wonderful white birds that used to flock onto rice paddies. Perhaps, with the species becoming more and more endangered, the anguish that was often apparent in the dance, made it almost seem to be a mating ritual  between the last of the flock.. There was submission, enticement, enforcement, appeasement, flirtation, shyness, boldness and above all a sense of alienation and aloneness.

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I’d like to see the performance again, in a similar rural setting…this time as part of an audience without cameras.

The music accompanying the dance was very apt and really quite beautiful. Two percussionists played a variety of rural themed instruments and a saxophonist encircled the performers with  soul searching bluesy improvisations.

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Put the performance on the edge or in the middle of green paddies as the sun was reflecting orange at the end of the day, or as misty mua xuan shrouded  the edges of the scene in early morning, it would have been perfection

As it was the performance unfolded with motor bikes piled high with produce revving past, farmers circumnavigating it all with studied indifference, a couple of policemen eddying on the perimeter. The ending was beautifully dramatic, and just at the right time, with two local officials bearing down to force a closure and a packing up and off.

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If it had been scripted it couldn’t have been better.

A lovely morning that was followed by a peaceful, lone and reflective bike ride for a hour through the market gardens and the tranquility that makes you hope that private enterprise doesn’t get the chance to eye it all off and contain it with highrises and marinas and resorts for the have it alls. Perhaps, like my imagined storks, the writing is already on the wall.

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.


  1. I too hope that private enterprise doesn’t usurp this rare landscape in the middle of this rare city. The problem is, as history shows us again and again in other urban centers, that once the artists begin to claim it as a space for work, expression, and event – private enterprise takes notice and replaces artist.

    No doubt it was a lovely morning. With regards to Bai Giua, I always wish people would just come and go quietly and never tell a soul.

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