Protecting Hanoi’s Traditional Dances Legacy

Hanoi is not only Vietnam’s political capital but is often considered as the intellectual and artistic heart of the country. The dances, imbued with historical significance and demonstrating humanity’s worldview, are closely connected with the spiritual life of locals and the cultural value of the capital.

Ha Noi has many ancient dances closely linked with the city’s history that fall into three categories: folk, royal and religious dances.

Some of the dances, however, have withered under the impacts of time and historical upheavals. Only about 30 dances still remain intact; mostly folk dances that take place in traditional festivals in villages around Ha Noi. According to Associate Professor Dr Do Thi Hao from the Ha Noi Association of Literature and Arts, the dances reinforce traditions and create memories.

People’s Artist Ung Duy Thinh stressed that it is necessary to preserve and promote Ha Noi’s ancient dances in a bid to conserve the country’s traditional arts. However, as performing in public on stage is turning very expensive, only powerful “giao phuong” (large communities of “ca tru” performers in each locality) can afford it.

Aside from the aforementioned dances, the ancient capital city of Thang Long and modern day Hanoi have been the cradle of various religious dances such as “luc cung” – a six floral lamp worship offering – and “bo bo” of Dong Anh district as well as the dragon dance of Phu Dong village, Gia Lam district.

In a bid to preserve these unique cultural traits, the Ha Noi Dancers’ Association has cooperated with relevant agencies over the last 15 years to implement a project on restoring and promoting the ancient dances of Thang Long-Ha Noi. Under the project, amateur dancers from villages in Hanoi are gathering to revive ancient dances that have been forgotten and bring them to local stages.

Apart from arranging ancient dance festivals, the association is also filming videos of traditional dances and preparing to publish a book titled “Thang Long-Ha Noi Ancient Dancing Art”, which will introduce 50 traditional dances and make it better known for visitors.