"Vietnam Soul' during the Hue Festival

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Music, dance and fashion pieces blended seamlessly into a cultural mosaic


Mexican guitarist, singer and composer, Paco Renteria, whose philosophy is "sing as if tomorrow never comes" composed a song about Vietnam titled

Sleeping in and lazing about in the hotel room were not options during the recent Hue Festival. With around 15 events and performances each day, the hardest part was choosing which to attend.

The lyrical landscape of King Tu Duc's Tomb was brought to life by French artist Denis Tricot, who had constructed one of his trademark wood installations: cylindrical wood beams hung with wires that swirled through the hills and courtyards.

At the tomb, Tricot's elegant birch wood strings curved and rippled like endless waves and graceful pine-tree hills. The lines hid themselves in garden leaves and reappeared at the lake house, only to disappear again into the lotus pond surrounding the Tu Duc Tomb.

Tricot said the interwoven wooden threads appeared to invite and draw visitors to the palace.

"At first, people were a bit indifferent to my work, but when it developed, people become curious, and appreciated it."

He said he owed the success to hardworking Vietnamese assistants.

"They really concentrated and openly gave their opinion on the work. That kind of thing in young people encourages and inspires me with new ideas. The young handicraft workers in France are not like that."

At night, the Dai Noi (Royal Citadel) shone bright with several brilliantly-colored stages. All kinds of music and art performances made for what seemed like an endless party of singing and dancing. Each stage was located far enough from the others so the sounds did not overlap.

Russian dreams

Walking around the citadel, visitors found themselves pulled in various directions, with each new stage inviting observers to stay, while others urged the adventure to continue.


Saranchuk Inna, the group leader of Divertisement_Flamingo( Russia) and her daughter( far left)  and niece( middle) who are member of the dancing troupe

The most popular show was probably a performance by Divertisement Flamingo, a dance troupe from Russia.

A young contingent of dancers from 8 to 24 years old combined classical ballet, traditional Russian moves, and sport dances. The performance was both controlled and wild, with most kids in the audience smiling from ear to ear, eyes wide with excitement at the quick and vivid movements of the young dancers threading their way through colorful ensemble of festive music.

Saranchuk Inna said this was the third time her group had performed at the Hue Festival.

"We were very happy with the audience and this encouraged us to dance better."

At first, groups of children watching the performance were too scared and shy to come close. But as the dancers hit their stride, the kids slowly moved closer and closer, eyes glued to the artists.

Several walked up after the show and gave the dancers flowers.

"Although we couldn't talk directly to each other, I felt their love."

Inna also felt her artistic connection with Vietnam go the other way. She was very impressed with the Vietnamese performances she saw that night.

"I like Vietnamese and traditional Hue dancing with its music and hand dancing. My daughter likes to dance with hand and finger movements like Vietnamese dancers."

Inna and Divertisement even performed their own dance with conical hats inspired by traditional Vietnamese dancing.

"I only wish more Vietnamese performances were translated into English or Russian," she said.

From Mexico with love

Mexican singer-songwriter Paco Renteria was a highlight of the evening. He lived up to his stated credo of singing "as if tomorrow will never come."

The stage in front of Renteria was also crowded with youthful spirits dancing and singing along. In a loose and light outfit that looked like an Indian kurta, and with his long hair and bare feet, Renteria looked like some kind of priest whose bible and belief were music and love. It was not merely the performance, but the emotional conversations of music between Renteria's voice, guitar and his drummer and trumpeter.

"I have a mission and that is to give my heart to the stage," he said. He certainly fulfilled it that night.

Spicy subcontinen

After a night of wandering, the flowing fabrics and cloth floating across the large Thai Hoa front stage caught the eye.


Sadhna Saxena and her daughter prepare for the Indian fashion show during Oriental Night at the Hue Festival

Oriental Night, a fashion show in its sixth incarnation at the Hue festival, enchanted the audience with sophisticated works from Vietnam, Laos, Japan, China, Mongolia and India.

With the night almost over, the atmosphere became still and peaceful as perhaps the most vibrant collection, a set of designs by Indian Sadhna Saxena, crossed the stage.

The traditional crafts and jewelry from her country made all the difference as the models' sweet smiles and beautiful hand movements passed me by like a romantic summer breeze on bare feet.

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