Dancing Vietnam: young country, old memories

In 1955-1975 the Vietnam War killed thousands of people and left 700,000 veterans suffering from psychological after-effect. If 20 years ruined a country, 20 years transformed Vietnam from one of the poorest countries in the world into a lower-middle income country. Vietnam is young, with an incredible 65% of the population under the age of 30. The scars have now been absorbed, Vietnam reconstructed, but memories remain. The choreographer Ea Sola decided to narrate the collective memory of the war to the new generation.

Draught and Rain: an evolving exploration of war

ic~AQE2SwAAoYXmAoY1CwAnsO0CBwGD8AFAAQA6dTIEa Sola returned to Vietnam in 1990 to conduct five years of research on the traditional music and dance of her homeland, exploring the psychological effects of the war on its people and – inevitably – herself. The research evolved into her first version of ‘Draught and Rain’, performed internationally in 1995. The cast was composed of elderly Vietnamese peasant women aged 50-75. Those same women who danced with death and who held guns during the Vietnam war.

In 2005 she created ‘Draught and Rain Vol. 2’, this time with the Vietnam of a later generation, once removed from war, dedicating the dance to the world’s youth. In an interview with a Vietnamese news service, Ea Sola explained: “It doesn’t mean that young people who didn’t experience the war don’t have memory of the war. They know about those days through the stories of the old warriors as well as other sources of information.”

Back to the future with Ea Sola once more recreating the performance in response to a request by Edinburgh festival director Jonathan Mills. A third incarnation was created with a group of elderly women from the north of Vietnam whose voices and chants had consoled the soldiers in the front lines. The movements are accompanied by a six virtuoso traditional musicians. The group has been on tour from 29 March to 10 April in France.

Ea Sola’s creative expressions touch the roots of a country and the hearths of the audience with a message of hope, forgiveness and reconstruction.


Drought and Rain – Edinburgh International Festival video

Bibbi Abruzzini
Bibbi Abruzzini is a foreign correspondent for the BALTIC REVIEW and international news agencies in South Asia. She is Italian, grew up in Brussels and has reported from several countries, including Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, Croatia, France, India, Italy, Lebanon, Nepal, Tunisia,Turkey and the US – writing largely about social and development issues.