Lines in the sand draw royal plaudits
|Master at work: For Tri Duc, sand painting is always an interesting experiment; an ocean he is still eager to explore. — VNA/VNS File Photo
Artist Dang Tri Duc has charmed audiences across the globe with his unique take on the ancient art of sand performance. Tuyen Chi
and An Vu
share his story.
Sand performance is not a new art, but in Viet Nam, artist Dang Tri Duc presents it to audiences in a fresh way.
Gliding upon the sand surface, his two skilled hands create scenes of poetic villages, charming young ladies in conical hats, and Ha Noi streets within thirty seconds. Each sand image shown in the mirror transports the audience somewhere new and surprising.
The first performance in the Duyen Dang Viet Nam (Charming Viet Nam) 21, which took place in Hoa Binh Theatre in HCM City, helped Duc start out on his way to conquering audience's hearts.
In the beginning, Duc was just an unknown puppeteer. But when he watched an online video of sand painting in 2006 and a sand animation performance in South Korea, he started to be interested in this kind of art.
While blending the sand, Duc slowly explains his new venture: "Sand painting (or sand animation art) is the art of pouring coloured sand, or mineral powder, or natural and synthetic material onto any surface to make a stable painting.
"From what I have learnt, sand painting was born a long time ago. It was created by South American aborigines, who used it as part of a spiritual ritual. During the ritual, the patients sat on the painting to make their pains disappear.
"There is no exact information about how sand painting came to Viet Nam. However, I assume artist Y Lan is the founder of this art subject."
Wiping the sweat from his forehead to keep it from falling down into his painting, Duc says.
"When I was a kid, I wanted to become a puppeteer like my father. Sadly, the water puppets could not help me make ends meet, so I had to turn to other things, like making puppets for television shows and designing theatre costumes. I worked for anyone who was ready to hire me.
"One day when I took part in a musical show, the director asked me to help create an impressive display, so I thought of sand painting, which I have practised for a long time.
"I used sand to paint flowers, butterflies, fields, young ladies, all kinds of things on the mirror. The audience reaction was beyond my expectations. They loved my performance and I have received more orders from many companies and music shows since then."
In 2012, Duc was invited by one of his friends to do the sand show as a gift for UK's Queen Elizabeth II on the occasion of her 60th Diamond Jubilee celebration. He knew this was a golden chance, so he rolled up his sleeves to set the stage by himself.
With every ceremonial song of the British Royal, his clever hands grazed over the mirror table, creating an array of sand images which depicted the life of the famous queen from her adolescence to the present. At the end of the show, all the audience stood up and gave him a huge round of applause as he drew the face of the monarch to the melody of "God Save the Queen".
"I used to set the stage and perform for a Vietnamese communication company in England. This time, they invited me to retell each period in the Queen's life through sand painting and music. What impressed me most is that that was the first time a Vietnamese media company was chosen to organise such an important event in England.
In order to do the show, Duc says he had to look at every picture documenting the life of the Queen. He also listened to live music from the orchestra in preparation. "There would be a lot of pressure since I had to perform in front of the Royal family and the symphony orchestra, so I had to try as much as possible not to be rattled by them," he recalls.
"After the show, an old couple stayed until the end to see me. The man shook my hand, his own trembling, and said, "Thank you, Mister Sand!" He also said he was moved to tears when I performed the scene where the Queen decides to stay in London with her people during W W II. It was one of the most unforgettable moments in my life."
In Viet Nam, there are no centres which provide professional sand painting training. But to Duc, this kind of art is still new, and he wishes to learn more and explore it on his own.
"I do not intend to hold classes and teach anybody yet, since I am also a learner who considers sand animation art an interesting experiment, an ocean in which I still have many things to discover," he smiles. "I love performing for children the most, as I always find something new and fresh in their world. When I choose kids to be my subject of creation, I feel like I can live in the world I have dreamed about."
Having returned from the Da Nang fireworks festival, Duc says he has plans for a dancing show based on a folklore fairy tale. "That day may be a bit too far, but I never lose hope," he says. — VNS