Artists propose ways to enliven Hồ Chí Minh City pedestrian street

Vietnamese cultural authorities and artists have suggested different ways to make Nguyễn Huệ Pedestrian Street in downtown Hồ Chí Minh City teem with life.

After opening in late April, the street in District 1 has gradually become a favorite hang-out among city-dwellers, particularly youngsters, and tourists.

By daytime, the zone is frequented by strollers and morning exercisers, and also makes a nice setting for bridal and artistic photo and filming shoots.

As night falls, the place is packed with groups of youngsters who rehearse and perform street arts and play sports such as freestyle dance and skating, mostly on a spontaneous basis, and their expectant spectators.

M?t b?n n? m?ng sinh nh?t 23 tu?i c?a mình b?ng cách b?t m?t l?iA girl, as pictured on July 12, 2015, celebrates her 23th birthday by blindfolding herself and insisting on free hugs from passers-by on Nguyễn Huệ Pedestrian Street, located in downtown Hồ Chí Minh City

People from different walks of life also gather for night dancing sessions.

However, the street remains in its infancy, while plans to stage a wide array of cultural and artistic activities in the area are still on the drawing board.

Phan Nguyễn Như Khuê, director of the Hồ Chí Minh City Department of Culture and Sports, said the municipal People’s Committee, which is in charge of Nguyễn Huệ Pedestrian Street, does have plans to enhance the street’s appeal with cultural and art performances.

The committee has requested competent agencies, including the District 1 People’s Committee, the Department of Transport, the Department of Culture and Sports, and the Department of Tourism to come up with proposals to orient and facilitate the growth of the street.

Pedestrian_Street_1A girl showcases her skateboarding and obstacle evading skills on Nguyễn Huệ Pedestrian Street on July 24, 2015

Artists’ suggestions

Seasoned artists have articulated their propositions on how to make the walking street more alluring in the long run.

Trần Vương Thạch, director of the Hồ Chí Minh City Ballet Symphony Orchestra and Opera (HBSO), suggested putting up several small stages in the area, which he said relevant agencies have taken into consideration.

“HBSO artists are always available for performances to be staged on the street.

We have also come up with several ideas which we will turn into actions in the coming time.”

He added.

While excluding the possibility of organizing symphony performances on a regular basis in the area, Thạch finds concerts of semiclassical music and recitals in brass instruments and percussion a riveting boost to the ambiance.

“Apart from brief art shows, excerpts of musicals and classic plays which span between 30 and 45 minutes will become a major appeal to visitors.

Local audiences are particularly fond of “đờn ca tài tử” [southern Vietnamese music singing], “cải lương” [reformed theater] and folk music, which also intrigue foreigners, so such performances will be a great addition.”

He noted.

Hai nhóm nh?y free style thi tài v?i nhau trên ph? di b? Nguy?nA group of freestyle dancers are seen performing on Nguyễn Huệ Pedestrian Street, drawing a large crowd of spectators

Routines of children’s music, puppetry, circus and illusion should also be a must if the area is to cheer kids up.

Street artists should hold exchanges with their audiences and show them how to sing or dance along, the veteran artist urged.

Meanwhile, beloved saxophonist Trần Mạnh Tuấn underscored that he and his team, Sài Gòn Big Band, cannot wait to stage concerts on a regular basis on Nguyễn Huệ Pedestrian Street.

The band has performed at several public venues, including Bitexco Financial Tower – Hồ Chí Minh City’s tallest building – in District 1 and trade centers in the foreigner-packed Phú Mỹ Hưng urban area in District 7 over the past several years, and are heartily welcomed by local and expat audiences alike, he added.

“Pedestrian squares in other countries boast such diverse cultural activities.

Artists have been permitted by a local agency to give performances of jazz, folk and modern dance at the Old Quarter in Hà Nội on weekends.”

Tuan pointed out.

Pedestrian_Street_4A performance of traditional music on Nguyễn Huệ Pedestrian Street

Likewise, Nguyễn Thị Hải Phượng, an acclaimed “đàn tranh” (16-chord zither) artist, proposed that the 600-meter street be divided into sections for different art forms.

Entertainment acts should be intertwined with music-manipulated performances which are currently offered at the zone at certain hours during the day, she advised.

“Brief programs accentuating Vietnamese traditional culture, costumes, cuisine and art should also be included.

Such programs will both appeal to visitors and nurture appreciation for the country’s traditional art among local children.”

Phượng underlined.

The seasoned performer recommended that such non-profit activities be funded by companies, non-governmental cultural foundations, or even shops operating in the area.

Land plots within the pedestrian street which are dedicated to such non-profit cultural endeavors should be leased at reasonable prices, Phượng noted.

Source: Tuổi Trẻ News

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