Vietnam Expressions

Topics: Vietnam, Music of Vietnam, Nhã nhạc Pages: 7 (2662 words) Published: May 15, 2012
Final paper


One expression of culture from Vietnam includes dance, including dances performed at festivals and royal dances of the imperial court. A second expression of culture from Vietnam includes music, from imperial court music, classical music and rock and roll. The expressions of dance and music in the Vietnamese culture provide a glimpse of their embedded values and insight into the culture of Vietnam. “Although there are many general types of dance and music that derived from the culture of Vietnam over the last several decades, the dance and music currently practiced today can be traced as far back as 1010 CE” (Maraniss). Traditional Vietnamese dance includes several different forms. These include: dance as performed in Vietnamese theater and opera, dances performed at festivals, and royal dances of the imperial court. Dance is thought to have been an integral part of Vietnamese culture since ancient times, as depicted by engravings found on Dong Son drums. Vietnam is a diverse country with 54 different ethnic groups, with the ethnic Vietnamese (known as Kinh) making up the majority of the population. Much of Vietnamese theater and Vietnamese music are intertwined with each other, as well as with Vietnamese dance. Popular theatre forms such as Hat tuong, Hat cheo and Cai luong all often feature dance, however these dances are performed in a liberal manner without set rules, unlike other more specific dance styles. The lion dance was imported from China into Vietnamese culture where it developed its own distinct style. It is performed primarily at traditional festivals such as Tet, meaning the Lunar new year, and Tet trung thu, meaning the Mid-Autumn Festival, but also during other occasions such as the opening of a new business. The lion dance is highly symbolic, supposedly used to ward off evil spirits. There are an abundance of styles and the lion dances are typically accompanied by martial arts and acrobats. Accompanied with Nha nhac, or court music of the Tran Dynasty to the Nguyen Dynasty, were the intricate dances of the Vietnamese Imperial court. While assuredly court dances existed before nha nhac in particular emerged, it is the Nguyen Dynasty form that is still highly preserved today, and has been declared along with the whole of nha nhac as an intangible cultural heritage. These dances require great skill and the dancers are often dressed in extravagant costumes. Currently, they are performed at festivals in Hue or other special, sometimes televised occasions, in order to promote the traditional arts. “Some of the most popular dances include (among others): * Fan dance

* Lantern dance
* Lotus dance
* Flag dance
* Platter dance
* Candle dance
* Incense dance
* Hat dance
* Scarf dance
Dances have been an integral part of Viet since the ancient time as evidenced from the depictions on Dongson artifacts” (Maraniss). Through many upheavals of history, as war and peace replaced each other time to time, turmoil and prosper came and left, Vietnamese dances went through some losses, gains and modifications to come to their current forms today. “Though different in types and themes, all traditional Vietnamese dances today have the following characteristics: focus is placed on the movements of the arms and upper body, from the waist up. Much less attention is paid on the movements of the legs and the lower body” (Maraniss). Interestingly, a large number of Western dances are not termed mua (dance) but nhay (jump/skip) in Vietnamese because they focus on the movements of the legs rather than the arms. If a Vietnamese tells you to mua, and you just move your legs in a very skillful way, they will say that you’re not performing a mua, but if you just move your arms while standing in one place, they will accept that performing as a mua. All these show how arm movements are crucial and focus points to Vietnamese...

Cited: Andresen, Lee. Battle Notes: Music of the Vietnam War, Savage Pr; 1st Edition. 2000
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Caso, Adolph, Noel, Chris, Treadwell, William F. Matter of Survival: Hollywood Actress Working for Pentagon in Vietnam, Branden Books. 1989 
Maraniss, David. They Marched Into Sunlight, Simon & Schuster. 2003
Soli, Tatjana. The Lotus Eaters, St. Martin’s Press. 2010
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