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Tuesday, January 19, 2021

HBSO revives Café Saigon on August 8

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HCMC – The HCMC Ballet, Symphony Orchestra and Opera (HBSO) will present a revival of the contemporary dance show Café Saigon for a single performance on August 8 at the Saigon Opera House.

The show was originally created by Joost Vrouenraets and Maite Guerin from the GOTRA dance company in Maastricht in the Netherlands. The pair travelled to Vietnam to make what was at the time a new dance show with a group of dancers from the HBSO Ballet.

The scene is in a Saigon café at some time in the middle of the 20th century. Apart from that, there is little overt realism in the show.

Instead, the dancers fall off tables to be caught by other dancers, carry chairs aloft as if they were partners in a ballet, and even sing briefly.

The music for the work is an eclectic mix ranging from songs by Joan Baez (who sang with Bob Dylan in the 1960s folk music world) to accordion music by Fabian Beghim and Didier Laloy.

Performing on August 8 will be Meritous Artist Tran Hoang Yen, Nguyen Thu Trang, Ha Khanh Vy, Do Hoang Khang Ninh, Ha On Kim Tuyen, Sung A Lung, Phan Thai Binh, Dang Minh Hien and Nguyen Minh Tam.

The show was considered a success by all involved, so much so that an informal photo opportunity occurred at the Saigon Opera House foyer after the opening performance.

Café Saigon is an example of the aim of the HBSO Ballet to combine shows displaying classical ballet, such as Giselle and The Nutcracker (both included in the revised schedule for the second half of 2020), with contemporary works displaying modern dance movements and frequently created by the dancers themselves in collaboration with their choreographers.

The action of Café Saigon begins with a solo narrator speaking in Vietnamese in front of the curtain. When the curtains part the audience sees four pairs of dancers, plus the original narrator. To reveal more would be to spoil the surprises in store. Suffice it to say that the show ends with Louis Armstrong’s 1967 number ‘What a Wonderful World’ and the dancers standing in line at the front of the stage.

Tickets for the performance are VND300,000, VND450,000, VND550,000 and VND650,000, with a special concessionary price of VND80,000 for students on presentation of a valid student card. The show begins at 8 p.m.

By Bradley Winterton

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