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HCM City launches 3rd International Dragon Dance festival

Ho Chi Minh City has launched the 3rd International Unicorn-Lion-Dragon Dance Festival as part of its activities to promote tourism.
Dragon dance is part of the traditional lifestyle of the Hoa (Chinese-Vietnamese) community.
About 440,000 Hoa people live in HCM City, mostly in Cho Lon in District 5 (Photo: VNA)

The event will feature 30 troupes from the city, neighbouring provinces and countries in Southeast Asia.

The organiser, the city’s Department of Tourism and District 5, confirmed that troupes from Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand have signed to join the festival.

The festival’s theme is Lan Len Mai Hoa Thung (Dragon Climbs Mountains), a traditional dance which presents a dragon heading to the highest mountain.

In the dance, a performer jumps from the lowest iron pole, around one metre high, to the highest one of at least 1.7 metres. There are 10 poles 1-3 metres apart.

Only skilled artists who have two years of experience in the dance can perform Lan Len Mai Hoa Thung.

Dozens of performances with kylin heads and other items used in kylin and dragon dances will also be featured.

Members of troupes will meet and discuss their performing techniques.

In 2018, 25 professional troupes in the region took part in the 2nd Kylin-Dragon Dance Festival, which was organised in Van Lang Park in District 5. It attracted several thousand Vietnamese and foreign visitors. 

Mua lan (dragon dance) is part of the traditional lifestyle of the Hoa (Chinese-Vietnamese), 440,000 of whom live in the Old Quarter, known as Cho Lon (Big Market), in District 5.

The dance is usually performed during Tet, Lunar New Year and Mid-Autumn festival at opening and groundbreaking ceremonies.

The performers wear costumes in black and white to present the balance of am (yin) and duong (yang), and a red fabric belt symbolising passion for the martial arts.

During Tet, they use red clothes to present lucky things. They play different drums to rock the audiences and they also perform as circus artists.

“Dragon dances of the Hoa in Cho Lon feature a mixture of dance, martial arts and passion,” said master Luu Kiem Xuong, head of Nhon Nghia Duong, who has more than 20 years of experience in the art.

The city has dozens of professional dance troupes, including the leading troupes Nhon Nghia Duong and Kien Thang Duong of Cho Lon with 100-200 performers each.

The 3rd International Unicorn-Lion-Dragon Dance Festival will open on April 24.