|VNOB’s soloist Nguyễn Đức Hiếu. — Photo courtesy of the artist
Young ballerino Nguyễn Đức Hiếu will be a soloist in the Giselle ballet at Hà Nội Opera House. This is the first time the ballerino performs the main role in a ballet performance.
Việt Nam News reporter Nguyễn Bình spoke with Hiếu about his first time performing solo.
This is the first time you’ve taken a main role in a ballet. How have you prepared for it?
This is a dream that I wanted to realise since I was a student in dance school. Now, I’m a dancer at the Việt Nam National Opera & Ballet (VNOB), I still have a burning desire to perform on a big stage.
When I was assigned the role of Albrecht by the VNOB, I was very excited. But later, I was nervous because Giselle is a demanding performance for any dancer.
Giselle requires perfect technique and absolute accuracy. Plus, expressing the character’s development plays an important role as Giselle is a symbol of romantic ballet.
In this version, my role Prince Albrecht is a character that evokes pity. He is a noble and he loves Giselle, a young peasant girl. But they cannot love each other because of social status.
The role’s character is very complicated and requires expressing a range of emotions from youthful passion and heartache to regret throughout the performance.
I discussed with choreographer Lưu Lan a lot to profoundly understand ballet history, helping me to study the role and perform it well.
I hope that this role is a chance for me to grow in my career.
Could you tell us about your competition at the Asian Grand Prix in Hong Kong 2018 when you were a student?
I took the fourth place in the competition. It was my first international competition. My teacher dancer Cao Chí Thành knows that I am keen on strong movements and rhythm, so he decided to let me compete in a Don Quixote variation at the contest.
The variation is one minute in length but is very difficult. It took five months of practice. The variation converges the quintessence of ballet which is the potential for each dancer to explore and challenge himself.
My teacher was recognised at the Helsinki International Ballet Competition, the Asian Pacific International Ballet Competition in Japan and Shanghai International Ballet Competitions.
I am inspired by his variation performances.
You gained a full scholarship to study at the San Francisco Ballet School. There are very few opportunities for Vietnamese ballet dancers to study abroad. How meaningful was this to you?
I was quite surprised when I was awarded a full scholarship at the San Francisco Ballet School. I am also quite short and small compared to western dancers.
But during the practice, I always thought that I could give something special to shine and make people remember me. The principal was impressed with me when I did a big jump (grand allegro) that required a high bounce.
Through that, I found my own strength. Although I am not tall, I can jump high and make good use of my body to perform techniques that my western classmates find difficult.
I found that I should not self-deprecate due to my height or my Asian face. As long as we know how to promote our strengths, we will have opportunities in Europe and America.
What is the role of ballet in your life?
I learned to dance when I was small for good health. I entered the Việt Nam School Academy in 2013. I cannot sit still. When I dance, I liberate my body and, most importantly, find my personality.
The art of dancing requires perfection, but there is still something to make my soul comfortable. Ballet does not have many steps like contemporary dance and not as many details as folk dance. But it is the top standard of the world and there are still people who want to conquer the top of dance.
I think that ballet is academic in a way, combining mathematics and literature with dance.
I use dancing as a kind of therapy to heal myself. When I’m stressed or having an incident in my life, dancing helps me release negative energy.
Perhaps, each of us needs to find out how important dance is to each person, then we will have the answer.
What are you doing now? And what is your dream role?
Presently, I want to focus on bringing new ballet performances to the audience. I want to enjoy the spotlight.
My dream role is Romeo. I am always impressed by the enthusiastic love of the youth overcoming obstacles and challenges.
Maybe when I love, I want to be like that.