On center stage

Da Nang’s Expats Got Talent won over members of the audience from all around the world.

By STORY LE DIEM on January 17,2019 11:02 AM

On center stage

PHOTOS TRUNG VUONG DA NANG THEATRE

When little Chloe McDonald began singing “Hallelujah”, the theater became silent. Not a whisper was heard. All were enchanted by her sweet voice full of emotion. And when she changed from singing in English to singing in Vietnamese, the crowd erupted. Chloe’s was just one of dozens of performances at Da Nang’s Expats Got Talent, held recently in the central city.

Da Nang is one of the most popular destinations in Vietnam for both domestic and foreign tourists, according to Mr. Huynh Van Hung, Director of the Da Nang Department of Culture, Sport and Tourism. It welcomed nearly 7 million visitors in 2018 and numbers have grown an average of 20 per cent each year in recent times. Some 1,500 foreigners, meanwhile, now live and work in the city.

The department organized Da Nang’s Expats Got Talent in order to create an arts playground for the expatriate community in the city and nearby Hue and Hoi An. The show also expressed the hospitality and attention of Da Nang authorities towards foreign friends and provided a venue for local people and foreigners alike to enjoy culture and arts performances from all over the world.

The contest was open to all foreign economic, political and social groups, non-government organizations, and international businesses with an office in Da Nang, and any expats living, studying or working in the city or neighboring areas.

Acts had to showcase their national culture, be it songs, music, dancing, singing, magic acts, circus acts, theater, hip-hop, beatbox, or anything else. Each individual could perform for a maximum of seven minutes while groups had 15 to 20 minutes.

On center stage

The first Da Nang’s Expats Got Talent in 2017 was warmly received and welcomed 81 performers. Now an annual event, the second holding this year saw 115 contestants from countries such as Spain, France, Russia, Australia, South Korea, China, and Laos, with three prizes in each category: VND10 million ($440), VND7 million ($300), and VND5 million ($220) for the three best group performances and VND5 million ($220), VND3 million ($130), and VND2 million ($85) for the three best solo performances. All contestants received a Certificate of Participation, and the best were also invited to perform at upcoming arts events in the city.

Chloe impressed the audience the most, winning second prize. The eleven-year-old from the US was encouraged by her mother to enter the contest for the first time. She chose “Hallelujah” to bring a Christmas and New Year spirit as the holidays were just around the corner. “I’ve never sang in a contest before, so I was happy to pick up second prize,” she said.

On center stage

Unlike Chloe, who won a prize at her first attempt, a group of South Korean students had to bide their time for a year before being among the winners. They performed at Danang’s Expats Got Talent in 2017, with the famed Chunhyang dance, based on a traditional love story of a young couple from the Choson Dynasty (1392-1910). Having improved all year, the group performed the dance for the second time this year, changing costumes and adding some complex moves to showcase Korean history and culture. Their effort was recognized by the reception of the audience and a second-place prize, coming just behind the excellent performance of a team from the Ba Na Cable Car Service Company and their dance of friendship among different races. With both local and foreign performers donning traditional costumes from Vietnam and other countries, the dance told the story of a group of Vietnamese, including the majority Kinh and ethnic minority groups, together shaking hands with each other and foreign friends both in wartime and peacetime to develop the country.

Meanwhile, the best solo performance went to the beautiful peacock dance of Liu Ruili and Zhang Yuying from China. Not only were they happy to win, they enjoyed seeing the talent of the other contestants, many of whom are friends in the city.

The stage was also lit up with performances such as a Sieng Khen dance from a Lao group, drama from international students at the city’s St. Nicholas International School, and a mix of Russian songs from Russian Iliyas Mamatov. “Each performance had its own special feature, reflecting the culture of the contestants’ home country,” Mr. Hung told The Guide. “We could see their passion and the practice they had all put in. Picking the winners was a tough task, as all were amazing and won over the audience.”

On center stage

Da Nang resident Ms. Thuy Lien said it was a colorful and varied show with interesting and differing entertainment. After hearing about the contest from a friend who watched it in 2017, she brought her kids to this year’s event. “It was a great chance to see the culture of other countries,” she told local media. “Each performance had traditional costumes, music and dance, and also stories about history, people, and society. We really enjoyed it.”

More activities will be added to the 2019 holding, including displays of Tuong masks (worn in Vietnamese classic operas), photo exhibitions of Da Nang, and cosplay of famous Vietnamese people for tourists and the expat community to gain better understanding of the city. “We expect the program will again be a bridge connecting and strengthening the friendship and solidarity between foreign friends and Vietnam in general and Da Nang in particular,” Mr. Hung said.

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