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Ethnic festival hits southern hub (Jan 20, 2003)

It may feel strange for them to feel comfortable on stage. Most of the musicians that will play in Ho Chi Minh City next week are used to being outside in their fields and hillsides when they perform for audiences.

But the musicians, dancers and actors will have no choice when they descend on Ho Chi Minh City next week to introduce their local talents to city-dwellers who may never venture to their part of the country.

The country's first festival is entirely dedicated to ethnic minority cultural arts starts tomorrow at the Reunification Palace.

The grounds have been divided into four zones for cultural demonstrations with one main stage in the centre.

Nightly musical performances there will showcase a medley of Vietnamese traditional songs, performed mainly by musicians from Hanoi and the northern province of Bac Ninh. The styles of music they will play are called cheo (popular opera), ca tru (academic chamber song), quan ho (love duet) and chau van (ritual songs) all from northern regions.

Various troupes from Ho Chi Minh City will also perform traditional opera that was popular in the South in the 18th century, called tai tu on the nightly stage.

Costumes from various ethnicities will be displayed in each of the quarters, as well as ancient costumes from Vietnamese royalty. Hat dances, unicorn dances and various folk games such as stilt-walking will also take place in the areas off the main stage.

The festival is organised by the Culture and Information Department of Ho Chi Minh City. Commune officials from 18 provinces and cities co-ordinated with Ho Chi Minh City to bring 500 artists together.

During the 13 day festival, groups from around the country will perform their local traditions. From northern Vietnam's Lai Chau and Cao Bang provinces, artists will interpret folk dances of the Thai and Ha Nhi ethnic groups and the unique folk songs of the Tay, Nung, Mong and Dao ethnic groups, as performed on the traditional khen flute and tinh guitar.

Gong and drum dances from the Tay Nguyen (Central Highlands) provinces of Dak Lak and Lam Dong will be performed by members of the E De, K'ho and Lach ethnic groups, and also by the Khmer ethnic group from the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta province of An Giang.

Members of the Stieng, Ch'ro, Ch'ma and Cham ethnic groups, from southern Binh Phuoc and Dong Nai provinces will send more than 150 artists to the festival.

To give the true atmosphere of Vietnam's countryside, there will be food stalls where visitors can sample traditional Vietnamese food.

Art troupes attending the festival will also take part in travelling performances to entertain residents in Ho Chi Minh City's suburban districts, including Binh Chanh, Hoc Mon, Thu Duc and District 12. (VNS)

Reprinted with permission from Nhan Dan Newspaper


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