Adults try to overturn an artistic deficit

October, 30/2016 - 09:00

Many grown-ups in Việt Nam are keen to make up for lost time, learning art skills they could not pick up earlier

Step forward: A group of adults learn contemporary dance at Blackbox in Hà Nội.— Photo: From Blackbox’s Facebook page
Viet Nam News

By Bạch Liên

When Nguyễn Thanh An, 30, returned to Hà Nội after studying in France for two years, she made up her mind to study painting. Her limited knowledge of art, she felt, had not let her enjoy Europe fully.

In France, she had often been invited by friends to visit art museums, but she realised she didn’t know much about the renowned painters whose works were on display. And when her friends discussed art, she couldn’t join in the discussion. Her only exposure to art had been the basic painting lessons she took in primary school in Hà Nội. She got bored and tired while visiting even Le Louvre in Paris.

An is not an exception. Many Vietnamese people born in the 1970s and 80s blame the country’s education system for not teaching them anything more than the very basic lessons in arts, instead focusing only on mathematics, physics and chemistry. As a result, many people in Việt Nam are not interested in art museums and have never even visited one.

Now, many adults have started taking courses in various forms of art, to understand and enjoy it, as well as to explore their own potential.

Nguyễn Thanh Hoài is in her 30s and started learning piano and contemporary dance a few years ago.

“I was curious when I got to know about Phan Ý Ly’s contemporary dance classes… Here, I have gained basic knowledge on how to appreciate a beautiful dance and how to use the body to express my feelings, After attending some classes, I became much more confident about watching contemporary dance performances as I started understanding them,” she said.

Dancenter opened in HCM City in 2007, with an international team, to spread the joy of dance and create a space for beginners and professionals alike, to come together and learn, have fun and, above all, dance.

As contemporary dance performances become more and more popular in Việt Nam’s big cities, dance classes have become a trend that attracts both children and adults.

Art classes for adults have received a good response, and some of the popular ones include Pi Corner, Zest Art, Cát Tường (painting classes), Việt Nam National Academy of Music, Viet S Voice, Mr Thương’s Art Centre (music, guitar, piano classes), Blackbox and Dancenter (dance classes).

The Tipsy Art project’s painting classes, which started in late 2015, have attracted lots of people. Each class is for three hours and helps beginners enjoy themselves as well as learn art.

“We want to inspire people who have never studied art and have thought that art was not for them,” said Nguyễn Thu Trang, creator of the project. “I believe that everyone has an artistic soul inside them, and their emotions need to be conveyed and expressed.”

A good way to relax and destress

Adults who have taken art courses say they learn not just techniques here, but also to relax. Hoài said contemporary dance has helped her overcome her shyness and become confident while moving to music, besides teaching her to liberate energy and live life to the fullest with emotions. “It helps me explore my own liberty, learn how to be creative… it is lots of fun,” she said.

Trần Mai Lan, a retired teacher in Hà Nội, said she always enjoyed singing but had never trained to sing correctly until her retirement. A year ago, she joined the Việt Nam National Academy of Music and it feels great.

“It’s great, the teachers appreciate my voice. I enjoy the classes. I have found new friends and now I can entertain… My family is encouraging me to make a CD of my songs. I’m thinking about it,” she said.

Doctors recommend that people pursue hobbies as they reduce stress levels.

“I had some patients who were depressed after personal tragedies. They are much better now, after they started attending dance and painting classes. If you feel low, try to learn something; you will become more optimistic in life,” said Dr Nguyễn Thanh Hà from Hà Nội’s Bạch Mai hospital. VNS  









Budding artists: A painting class under the Tipsy project. Photo courtesy of Tipsy
Finding their voice: A group of adults from Hà Nội learn to sing at Mr Thương Art Centre. Photo: From the Centre’s Facebook page