Wednesday, August 15 2018

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218 shows Việt Nam’s got talent

Update: December, 10/2017 - 09:00
Shining: The 218 team presented iconic images of Việt Nam using modern technology at the Asia Got Talent 2017 contest in Singapore. — Photo Courtesy of 218
Viet Nam News

A young man’s passion and resolve inspires a team of dancers to put on a show that dazzles judges and audiences while lighting up the Asia Got Talent stage in Singapore, An Vũ reports.

All he wanted to do was dance.

It is not often that an IT engineer gives up his vocation to pursue a passion for dancing, but not even his parents’ strong disapproval could deter Nguyễn Chấn Tín.

Soon after getting his degree in Information Technology, the young graduate joined the Vocational Ballet School of HCM City (VBSH).

And a year before he graduated from the VBSH, he founded a dance troupe called 218 (after the date of its founding, 21 August 2012), bringing together a group of young people who shared his passion.

Tín, however, had not let go of his technological know-how. He and his troupe saw a way to combine both to good effect.

In fact the effect was so good that the largest continent in the world took notice.

For the first time in three years of Asia’s Got Talent held in Singapore, a Vietnamese dance crew made history by making it into the semi-final round this year.

218, the all-Vietnamese crew, dressed themselves in traditional long dresses and conical hats, but that’s where the tradition ended. As they began their performance, the stage went completely dark and suddenly exploded in a frenzy of shining, colourful caricatures, drawing thunderous applause from the crowd, and putting large smiles on the faces of the three judges - David Foster, Anggun Cipta Sasmi and Jay Park

The crew had lined their outfits with LED (Light-emitting diodes), telling a traditional cultural story in a very modern way.

When Foster remarked after the performance that he’d not seen an image of Việt Nam in the dance, fellow judge Park intervened: “It seemed that you form a kind of flower at the end of your performance. What is it? Does it represent Việt Nam?”

“It is a lotus, a flower that symbolises Việt Nam,” a member of the troupe responded.

For troupe leader Tín, 30, the recognition of their performance at Asia Got Talent has been a shot in the arm, and a vindication of his passion.

“We were formed on August 21, that is why I named it 218. We are a rendezvous for young people passionate about dancing. At present, 218 has 15 official members and 20 unofficial members. We can dance to all kinds of music genres, but the style we want to pursue is applying technology into dancing,” said Tín.

The crew has steadily notched up successes, entering top 8 of Got To Dance and top 4 at the Việt Nam Got Talent contests.

Extra jobs

Tín said the income from dancing cannot meet make ends meet, “Therefore, members usually take extra jobs. Some are dance instructors at clubs and gyms, some are part-time camera men and photographers. Still, they try to manage schedules to practise together, before and during the contest.

“For me, after I graduated from University of Information and Technology (UIT), I did not become an IT engineer, but decided to follow the path of a dancer. It was my true passion and my family strongly opposed it,” Tín recalled, adding that even after his troupe entered the semi-final round in Singapore, his parents did not show much emotion.

"Though they are not still into the idea of me being a professional dancer, they support me all the way."

He added another hurdle the team had to face was during the competition. 218 needed more money for their accessories. “When we could not afford those, I decided to sell my car. Some members who taught in dancing clubs asked for so much leave to be able to compete that owners threatened to fire them. Obstacles surrounded us on all sides, but we held hands to the end, not caring as long as we were able to dance and perform on the stage.”

Explaning the meaning of the two items that 218 took to the show, Tín said: “With the first one, we wanted to introduce to the judges and audience specific images of Việt Nam – the conical hat, its landscape, paddling, silk ensemble and so on, to the background of Trống Cơm (rice drum) song. The dance and music were a perfect combination.

“The second one was a message of cultural stories we wanted to tell through the dance, emphasising that we don’t forget our Vietnamese roots, using images of dragons, lotus, the star and the fan.

“When we performed, the surroundings were dark. Dancing with LED is harder and requires accuracy in every move.”

Shared passion: The 218 team practises on an open area in HCM City. — Photo Courtesy of 218
Greetings from Việt Nam: At the Asia’s Got Talent 2017, the 218 dance troupe impressed both judges and the audience with their performance. — Photo Courtesy of 218

Although 218 could not be a finalist, the troupe has successfully represented the young Vietnamese generation on an international stage.

“The audience was so excited to see popular images of Việt Nam at the show,” Tín said. Judge Foster said he wanted to see more of Việt Nam in the semi-final round.

All members were really sad when they heard the result. They did not cry, but consoled each other. They had set their expectation high and all hoped to enter the final and boost the images of Việt Nam further.

"In the end, we failed. Although the result was not what we expected, we were surprised to get such a lot of support from everyone, including the audience. People wanted to take pictures with us and told us they were impressed with our performance.

“This is a motivation for us to open a larger and more modern studio for all dancers who share our passion. We want to apply newer technologies in our dancing in order to keep up with the future trend in the world."

Tín has a message for young people who love dancing.

“Everything begins with passion. We wanted to know how our real ability compared to others in the region. And we did it. If you have a passion, live it to the fullest! No one knows how far you will get, but you are free to live the life you want. Keep dreaming!” VNS

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