Vietnamese traditional music incorporating with African dance for the first time ever

In the multimedia performance program called “Heave”, melodies of Vietnamese traditional music will be incorporated with the passionate dance of Ghana, a country in West Africa.
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From Accra, the capital of Ghana, electronic music artist Luong Hue Trinh shared with VietnamPlus that she will have a very special performance with local artists here.

In “Heave,” some sound materials in daily life and the performance ritual of Đạo Mẫu (the worship of Mother Goddesses in Vietnam) will be mixed with Arca’s folk songs and street sounds.

This is the first time a Vietnamese music artist has exchanged art with artists in Ghana. The program will be livestreamed at 8 pm on May 29 (Ghana time), ie 3 pm on May 30 (Vietnam time). Viewers can watch on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram of the Organizing Committee - Alliance Française Accra (the agency promoting French culture and language in Ghana).

Vietnamese traditional music incorporating with African dance for the first time ever
Electronic music artist Luong Hue Trinh. Photo: Dino Trung

Art is the reflection of life

The idea of ​​this multicultural show came from Alliance Française Accra Director, Mr. Emmanuel Labrande.

During his time as Cultural Attaché of the French Embassy in Vietnam and Director of the French Cultural Center in Hanoi, Mr. Emmanuel Labrande had many opportunities to collaborate with Luong Hue Trinh, one of the outstanding acoustic electronical music artist in Vietnam.

"Heave" was supposed to take place within the framework of the Music and Dance Festival in Accra this year, but because of the pandemic, the festival could not be carried out as planned. However, Alliance Française Accra decided to continue to produce the show and broadcast it online.

“Online broadcasting will help more people around the world enjoy art,” said artist Luong Hue Trinh.

During one and a half year since her arrvial in Accra, Luong Hue Trinh has constantly collaborated with local artists to prepare for this collaboration.

“Heave” denotes a basic type of sound wave in music. It is also the movement of the body each time we breathe, and the term is also used in some movements in the art of dance.

The theme of the show was created from the observation of artist Hue Trinh, when people in many parts of the world felt that even breathing became difficult due to pollution, violence, stress and disease. The fact is that recently, a lot of people have died from lack of oxygen to breathe. Through the program, the artists raised the question of what people can do to regain normal breathing.

For artist Luong Hue Trinh, breathing is an expression of existence and all those pollutants have a significant influence on the existence each individual.

When the pandemic broke out, she followed the news about the situation in India and felt haunted. “As COVID-19 hits society, we become more aware of breathing, of the dangers of lack of oxygen,” added the artist.

Choreographer Sena Atsugah, who collaborates with Luong Hue Trinh, is very interested in the theme of the show, because it reflects the real life of today.

“Human activities have destroyed the environment. Through music, dance, video and poetry, the show will highlight the human impact on the natural environment. From there, it calls on people to change their way of life to have a safe and friendly environment,” shared Sena.

Through art, Sena hopes people will change their personal behavior to live with more purposes for the development of the community.

Vietnamese traditional music incorporating with African dance for the first time ever
Ghana's choreographer Sena Atsugah. Photograph: NVCC/VietnamPlus

Connecting Vietnam-Ghana cultures

From that idea, artist Luong Hue Trinh discussed with choreographer Sena Atsugah to bring the movements of the body as well as the sound of breathing on the stage.

“While composing and practicing, we also experienced not having enough oxygen for a certain period of time. I even had to go to the hospital to get checked out because my stomach abs were so painful after breathing in different states while filming the video for the show," the artist said.

When composing, Luong Hue Trinh always uses materials in Vietnamese traditional music and uses them creatively. This time too, through certain researches about traditional Ghanaian music and their sacrificial rituals to the gods, she decided to incorporate the folklore culture and materials in daily life of both countries into her music.

For Ghana, she included a musical element in the performance rituals for the their “thunder god” and some folk dances. As for Vietnam, Trinh used some materials in Đạo Mẫu (the worship of Mother Goddesses).

In addition, traditional Vietnamese music is also conveyed through the timbre of the zither. Not only that, the sounds of daily life in Accra and Hanoi are also recorded by the female artist to be included in the work, such as the shouts of street vendors, the sounds of vehicles and people talking in the small alley where Trinh's parents are living. Even familiar children's rhymes are also used in her compositions. Similarly, Trinh also uses the street sounds in Accra.

Choreographer Sena Atsugah said Luong Hue Trinh was the first Vietnamese musician she collaborated with.

“This makes me very excited and also somewhat nervous. Trinh has been immersed in Ghanaian culture, so I feel very excited and honored to be working with her. I hope I can contribute to spreading the meaning of the program,” Sena shared.

The artists all hope that the Vietnamese audience will enjoy the music and contemporary African dance in Ghana and vice versa. Thereby, the relationship of two geographically distant cultures will become somewhat closer.

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