Bamboo and circus are two familiar concepts in Vietnamese life, but sometimes familiarity and simplicity are anything but ordinary, especially when the two combines on stage to create an art show like the Vietnamese Bamboo Circus.
The performance of A O Show, a Vietnamese Bamboo Circus, at the Sydney Opera House. Source: VNA
Bamboo is a common material in Vietnamese daily life, but one that has a special place in the hearts of the people. In the Vietnamese Bamboo Circus, bamboo is used as more than props for some fascinating circus acts; it serves as an inspirational stepping stone for creative entertainment.
It is used to build the set, which quickly transforms from one scene to another. That makes bamboo an essential character of the performance and it creates a uniqueness that sets this country's circus apart from others.
Music is one of many key characters in the Vietnamese Bamboo Circus.
The live music for each performance is an innovative harmony of 10 to 20 traditional, fork, tribal, and modern musical instruments. The music was composed along with each show, amplifying every movement and spontaneous emotion of the performers.
Audiences will experience a plethora of cultural highlights such as the gongs of highlanders, the plucked lute from the northern folk music genre, ca tru (ceremonial singing) and the bowed string from don ca tai tu or southern folk music.
These are all listed by UNESCO as intangible cultural heritages of humanity.
Each Vietnamese Bamboo Circus performance is a representation of a different culture from a region in the country. Modern life is losing those charming scenes like people tending ducks in fields under the moonlight in the south, rituals to pray to the gods to bless crops in Central Highlands villages and the nights of romantic dating by girls and boys in northern villages.
The Vietnamese Bamboo Circus does not merely recreate those cultural activities but also conveys the soul of folklore through lights, sound and stage settings.
That makes the audience, whether Vietnamese or foreigners seeing for the first time, feel touched.
Bamboo circus brings Vietnamese art abroad
Vietnamese bamboo circuses have been performing not only in the country but also abroad to offer foreign audiences a peek into the daily life of Vietnam.
They have performed over 500 shows in over 50 cities in 17 countries, attracting over 200,000 people.
The shows have been performed at many famous venues like the Sydney Opera House, Kanagawa Arts Theatre, Yokouska Arts Theatre, Perth Festival, and Royal Opera House in Muscat.
Lang Toi (My Village) was the first bamboo circus performance from Vietnam to tour Europe. It has been performed 200 times in nine countries. It is now performed regularly at the Hanoi Opera House and Vietnam Tuong Theatre (Nha Hat Tuong Vietnam).
The A O Show is a quintessential Vietnamese Bamboo Circus show performed at the Saigon Opera House in HCM City. It has been globetrotting more than any other Vietnamese show since 2015.
Teh Dar is the only show based on the highland culture. Besides being performed at the Sai Gon Opera House and the Hoi An Lune Centre for Performing Arts, it has been on tour around Europe since 2018 and performed at 40 venues.
Last month, the A O Show went to Australia to the Sydney Opera House after 200 performances in 50 cities in 11 countries around the globe.
“We, the creators of the Vietnamese Bamboo Circus shows, can’t be prouder that A O Show meets all the criteria set by the theatre,” Tuan Le, the show’s director, said.
“Being chosen to perform at the Sydney Opera House is a significant movement for the Vietnamese Bamboo Circus and a breathtaking lifetime experience for all of us.
“Beyond entertainment, the Vietnamese Bamboo Circus is on a mission to touch the hearts of Vietnamese living far from their homeland and inspire international audiences with the essence of Vietnam’s cultural richness and beauty.”
The creator of A O Show and other Vietnamese Bamboo Circus is Lune Production, a Vietnamese company with expertise in cultural entertainment and the ambition to inspire and preserve Vietnamese culture through art performances.
“They partner with elite Vietnamese artists having experience working with prestigious international art organisations to present Vietnamese culture uniquely.