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Vietnam dances with backups
Publication Date : 31-07-2014
Whether on TV, music videos or live in concert, young singers are increasingly turning to groups of dancers to liven up performances
Whether on TV, music videos or live in concert, young singers are increasingly turning to groups of dancers to liven up performances.
TV producers have launched game shows aimed at seeking new talents in dance, such as Thu Thach Cung Buoc Nhay and Buoc Nhay Hoan Vu, both Vietnamese versions of popular American shows So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing with The Stars.
Although HCM City now has 15 professional dance troupes, their numbers often cannot meet demand.
Many concert and event organisers have had to turn to amateurs, usually people aged 16 to 23, from dance clubs, cultural clubs or aerobics classes.
But music fans and the industry's elite alike are concerned about dancers accompanying singers.
"Amateur dancers only need a few hours practice for a show," said Lam Vinh Hai, winner of the Thu Thach Cung Buoc Nhay in 2012 and leader of M&T Dance group.
"They wear costumes that are not aesthetically appealing, even see-through dresses," he said.
Another veteran dancer complained about the inappropriate costumes.
"Dancers wore costumes form Tay Nguyen ethnic minorities while singers performed a farmers' folk song from the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta in many concerts I saw in recent years," said dancer and choreographer Dang Hung, director of the Bong Sen Traditional Music and Dance Troupe.
"Dances not suited to songs are becoming a popular phenomenon," he said.
To satisfy audiences, dancers accompanying singers usually imitate or base performances on what is trendy in other countries.
According to Hung, the problem might rest with choreographers.
"Without professional choreographic training, these dancers often appear lacking in style and synchronization."
"Dances accompanying singers make performances livelier, but many choreographers have invested neither the time nor the effort in training dancers," he said. "And that hurts the performances."
Most concert choreographers are former dancers and have no training. They've turned to choreographing dance groups now that demands for dancing have increased. Many dance groups now have no choreographer.
According to People's Artist and choreographer Viet Cuong of the HCM City Television, excessive use of accompanying dances may hurt the music in the end.
"Singers will become less confident when they perform without the dancers. They will invest in dance with colourful costumes to dazzle audiences instead of improving their voice, which is the work that they must pay attention."
Among the city's most popular groups are the breakdancing and hip-hop Hoang Thong Troupe, the pop rock ABC Troupe and Phuong Viet, the folk-dancing Kim Quy Troupe, and the dance group for children Ngoi Sao Nho. They often dance at theatres, restaurants and big concerts.
Although troupe members are talented and skilled, pure dance performances are rarely staged in the city, so most dancers earn a living by accompanying singers.