Dancer Vũ Ngọc Khải. — VNS File Photo
Choreographer Vũ Ngọc Khải will present a new show entitled Đáy Giếng (Into The Well) on June 28 in Hà Nội. Khải currently works at the Konzert Theatre Bern, Switzerland.
He graduated from the Việt Nam Dance Academy and attended a one-year course at the Codarts Rotterdam Dance Academy in the Netherlands. He is the art director and co-founder of the 1648km Art Performance & Community Organisation.
Lê Hoa talks to Khải about his new show and career.
Can you tell us about your new work?
I choreographed Into The Well for the Hanoi Dance Fest 2019. The work is a journey of Vietnamese looking for their identity. In Vietnamese culture, the bamboo oars, communal house yards, water wells and mats are both propulsive forces and resistance for the individual human being.
Striking through cultural challenges I wanted to reflect myself in correlation with nature. The journey is illustrated by the language of contemporary dance and traditional live music.
I researched traditional festivals such as buffalo fighting and the Tây Sơn battle drum to incorporate into the dance. I was introduced to artists who I invited to join my project later. Traditional musicians Nguyễn Thành Nam and meritorious artist Nguyễn Ngọc Khánh will be playing for me. They were born into traditional music families.
How did you become a dancer?
I started dancing because my father made me to. At that time I was very active and like many other children I liked sports a lot. Honestly, when my father submitted the application for my entrance exam to dance school, I didn't like it at all.
But now I have to thank him because I've become a professional dancer and I love to dance.
Did you face many difficulties at the beginning?
I had a lot of injuries. When I was a child I often twisted my ankles. When I started learning ballet my legs were quite weak, so injuries were common if I fell in training.
I've suffered the consequences of those injuries such as arthritis. The worst injury I've had was a herniated disc. I had to take a year off because of that.
You've had the chance to perform with foreign artists on international stages. What have been your most memorable experiences?
Foreign dancers have amazing creativities, and I'm happy to be involved in that environment. School dancers have the right to zone in to their own creativity. Good or bad is not important and no one has the right to judge. This is the key for creativity.
The contemporary dance language is very wide and almost without limits. In school they learn many different techniques such as ballet, Cunningham, Limon, Flying Flow, Floorwork, Counter Technique and Release Technique.
These techniques are all choreographed by teachers. Creative thinking helps to acquire these techniques.
In contemporary dance ideas relate much to life, especially in the way you think about people. Modern life brings people to more complex thoughts and young people in particular want to express their emotions.
There are more young artists involved in contemporary dance. What do you want to say to them?
Actually, it is difficult to enjoy a dance performance. I think young dancers should set their goals from the beginning. They should know if they want to be ballet dancers, contemporary dancers or both because dance always takes time to practice.
Depending on the form of dance they choose, their bodies will grow around them. A dancer has quite short time to perform so if they have a clear plan from the beginning they will get the results they desire.
In addition, when they are dancers they should learn the methods of teaching, choreography and staging. It will be good preparation for them when they can no longer dance. But the most important thing is they should try their best to dance while they can. The door will open more for them later. — VNS