When French-Vietnamese dance instructor Linh Rateau cofounded Dancenter in 2007, few could have imagined that almost a decade later the annual dance performances put on by her performing arts centre would be such a huge event. That they manage to draw in an audience of 1,600 people, including not only family members and aspiring dancers, but the general public as well, is a testament to the success of a school that boasts well-known instructors and both professional and amateur dancers aged from four years old and up.
Now in its ninth year, this year’s show on Saturday, Jun. 4 and Sunday, Jun. 5 at the Youth Cultural House on Pham Ngoc Thach will be no different. Entitled Imagine, and with the dancers performing a range of styles, from jazz and ballet to hip hop, tap, flamenco, belly dance and high heels, the performance will bring together more than 200 dancers, from 12 years old to over 50, amateurs and professionals, locals and expats, all sharing the same passion.
“We practice in the studio in front of the mirror to correct ourselves,” says Linh Rateau. “But the most exciting time for all of us is when we are on stage as we can share [our work] with the audience.”
She adds: “Our goal is to offer high-quality entertainment to our audience with beautiful costumes, professional lighting and a great variety in the programme through music and [different] dance styles.”
Presented by Dancenter’s teenagers and adult, amateur students as well as the centre’s professional dance troupe, Urban Dance Group, Imagine has been choreographed by experienced professionals coming from as far afield as France, Canada, Denmark and Vietnam. Among them is John Huy Tran who is a professional judge and dance advisor for well-known Vietnamese TV shows including So You Think You Can Dance Vietnam, Vietnam Idol and Vietnam’s Got Talent. So well known has he become that on a recent episode of the TV game show, Nguoi Bi An, when a 12-year-old semi-professional hip hop dancer was asked who his hero was, his answer was “John Huy Tran”.
Aspirations play a huge role when it comes reaching the zenith of any profession or discipline, and the fact that John Huy Tran is now being cited as an inspiration is not only a commendation to his own work, but to the work of Dancenter where he has been an instructor for many years. Likewise, the annual show is also a source of inspiration for not only its participants, but the audience as well. This is echoed by Linh.
“We chose the title Imagine because we hope the audience will be inspired by the music, costumes, movements, expressions and passion of our dancers,” she explains. “As performers, dancing allows us to pretend to be whoever we want to be, to explore different worlds, to imagine a situation sometimes based on our own experiences or sometimes based on pure fiction. Dancing gives us the freedom to be anyone, anything at any time.”