Café Saigon returns to HCM City Opera House

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The HCM City Ballet Symphony Orchestra and Opera (HBSO) will present contemporary dance ‘Café Saigon’ at the HCM City Opera House on March 26. Photo courtesy of HBSO

HCM CITY — The HCM City Ballet Symphony Orchestra and Opera (HBSO) will stage contemporary dance Café Saigon, which features the city’s lifestyle in the mid-20th century, at the Municipal Opera House on March 26.

The dance drama is a co-production of HBSO and the Gotra dance company from Maastricht, the Netherlands.

It is choreographed by Joost Vrouenraets, Gotra’s artistic director and his colleague Maite Guerin.

Café Saigon is set in a coffee shop in Sài Gòn (former name of HCM City) in the mid-20th century, where young people meet and share their thoughts and feelings about life.

The music includes songs from the 1960s by American singer and songwriter Joan Baez and music by Belgian accordion duo Fabian Beghin & Didier Laloy. It ends with What a Wonderful World, one of the most famous songs recorded by American musician Louis Armstrong.

The performance will feature ten dancers paired into five couples, with one acting as a narrator of the dance.

The dance will feature soloists from HBSO such as Meritorious Artist Trần Hoàng Yến, Nguyễn Thu Trang, Đỗ Hoàng Khang Ninh and Sùng A Lùng, a Gold Medal winner at the 2016 National Young Choreographer Talent Competition.

The dance about HCM City’s lifestyle in the mid-20th century features dancers from HBSO. Photo courtesy of HBSO

Café Saigon premiered in June 2018 at the Opera House, winning praise from critics and the audience.

A year later, Vrouenraets and HBSO introduced their second production, a contemporary dance based on Stravinsky’s orchestral work The Rite of Spring, at the Autumn Melodies Art Festival 2019 in HCM City.

The dance was warmly welcomed, particularly by students and young people.

Vrouenraets studied at the Amsterdam School of Arts and the Rudra Bejart School in Lausanne, Switzerland, before joining the Béjart Ballet Lausanne in 2004.

In 2005, he and his dance partner Guerin founded Gotra, of which they form the hub, recruiting individual dancers for each production.

Gotra has been invited to perform at numerous schools, companies and festivals, including the Festival Biarritz in France in 2009 and the Schrittmacher Festival in Germany in 2010.

Vrouenraets now works as a freelance choreographer. His latest work is Bye Bye Baby Blackbird premiered by the Béjart Ballet Lausanne last month.

The latest performance of Café Saigon will begin at 8pm at 7 Lam Sơn Square, District 1. Tickets can be bought at the venue. — VNS

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