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Contemporary Dance: Cafe Sai Gon @ Saigon Opera House


The Ho Chi Minh City Ballet, Symphony Orchestra and Opera company [HBSO] will present a revival of the contemporary dance show Cafe Saigon for a single performance on August 8 in the Saigon Opera House.

The show was originally created by Joost Vrouenraets and Maite Guerin from the GOTRA dance company in Maastricht in the Netherlands. The pair traveled to Vietnam to make what was at the time a new dance show with a group of dancers from the HBSO Ballet.

The scene is in a Saigon café at some time in the middle of the 20th century. Apart from that, there is little overt realism in the show.

Instead, the dancers fall off tables to be caught by other dancers, carry chairs aloft as if they were partners in a ballet, and even sing briefly.

The music for the work is an eclectic mix ranging from songs by Joan Baez (who sang with Bob Dylan in the 1960s folk music world) to accordion music by Fabian Beghim and Didier Laloy.

Performing on August 8 will be NSUT/ Mer. A Tran Hoang Yen, Nguyen Thu Trang, Ha Khanh Vy, Do Hoang Khang Ninh, Ha On Kim Tuyen, Sung A Lung, Phan Thai Binh, Dang Minh Hien and Nguyen Minh Tam.

The show was considered a success by all involved, so much so that an informal photo opportunity occurred in the Saigon Opera House foyer after the opening performance.

Café Saigon is an example of the aim of the HBSO Ballet to combine shows displaying classical ballet, such as Giselle and The Nutcracker (both included in the revised schedule for the second half of 2020), with contemporary works displaying modern dance movements and frequently created by the dancers themselves in collaboration with their choreographers.

The action of Café Saigon begins with a solo narrator speaking in Vietnamese in front of the curtain. When the curtains part the audience sees four pairs of dancers, plus the original narrator. To reveal more would be to spoil the surprises in store. Suffice it to say that the show ends with Louis Armstrong’s 1967 number ‘What a Wonderful World’ and the dancers standing in line at the front of the stage.

This new performance of Café Saigon is part of the revival of HBSO’s work in general after the most unfortunate interval dictated by the Coronavirus in Vietnam. Fortunately, Vietnam has fared better than any other country in the world in combatting this virus, with zero deaths, and HBSO’s performances have now returned far sooner than would have been the case in any other country.

The revised schedule for these performances unavoidably omits some items that were included in the 2020 schedule published before the arrival of Covid-19. With luck, many of them will be re-introduced into the program for 2021.

Tickets for the performance are 300,000 VND, 450,000 VND, 550,000 VND and 650,000 VND, with a special concessionary price of 80,000 VND for students on presentation of a valid student card. The show begins at 8pm.


Event link:


Saturday 8 August

8:00pm - 10:00pm

The Opera House| 7 Công Trường Lam Sơn, D1, Ho Chi Minh City