Together the performers enact a series of tales about countryside life, with nods to folk arts like water puppetry and scenes on the rise of Vietnamese Buddhism.
A natural lake on the western outskirts of Hanoi is now the stage for large-scale cultural spectacle The Quintessence of Tonkin. Running six nights a week, the ambitious showcase required installing a hydrothermal system to raise a 15-ton replica of the Thuy Dinh, a historic structure at nearby Cua Thay temple, from under the water in less than a minute. Here, 100 students from the Hanoi College of Dance are joined by 150 real-life farmers who spent more than a year learning to perform. Together they enact a series of tales about countryside life, with nods to folk arts like water puppetry and scenes on the rise of Vietnamese Buddhism, linked to the aforementioned temple.
This article originally appeared in the December 2017/January 2018 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Power Play”).