The place around the Lenin statue stands empty most of the time during the day apart of some skate border enthusiasts and tourist lingering around taking the bearing for the next destination. but early in the morning you will have different sort of people all over the place. Standard dancing, Badminton, football, Tai Chi and all other kind of sport you may think of. All this changes in late afternoon. Apart from the as well usual workers in conical hats and the ever present tourists, because of the near by Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, legions of teenagers are flooding the stage in front of Lenin and transform everything in a large informal hip-hop event in the Vietnamese Capital. As the still two thirds population in Vietnam is under thirty it is an apt symbol for the ever faster pace of changing here.
I have taken a lot of images here but this time it was time to go to an event made possible by the Goethe Institute in Hanoi. They invited due to the 40 year German - Vietnamese diplomatic relationship the Berlin Hip-Hop dancer and choreographer Raphael Hillebrand to Hanoi. Raphael first met Khan Linh Pham in May 2004 at ASEM Summit. it has been a legendary dance battle which marked their artistic cooperation. They did a joint production in 2008 and toured in 2011 all over Europe.
I was aware that light would be different in a theatre but it has been quite a challenge to take some good images in a nearly dark environment here. The Lenin Park at night is looking like daylight in comparison. Luckily I took my Sony A7s the 70 to 200mm f4 lens as well as an old Tamron 200 to 500 f 5.6 lens which I used alternatively. Nevertheless apart from the good low light capabilities focusing due to the poor light conditions has been a real challenge.
Trying to freeze the fast moving dancers was nearly impossible in the first half of the performance but as I like challenges I did my best and hope you like the images I could get at this conditions.
Khan Linh Pham and his Crew S.I.N.E. have meanwhile repeatedly been awarded the title Best B-Boy Crew of South East Asia, and Raphael Hillebrand has further developed his vision of Hip-Hop in various theaters and by completing studies in choreography.
This week they had a piece on stage based on choreography by S.I.N.E. Focusing on light, space and movement they performed at the Drama Theatre together with dance-media-artist Christian „Mio“ Loclair. The artistically lighting design provided an extraordinary and innovative audio-visual experience.
Twisting and turning with the beat and the light performance the dancers performed at the beginning just in some spare flash lights and so quickly that it had been nearly impossible to capture any worthwhile image with a camera without flash. Accordingly you shouldn’t expect to see very sharp images. All extremities create a blur of colour and movement. As over all there is a layer of light which gives the impression that gravity is defied. As the dancers are moving into different moves from one-handed to upside-down positions, overtime keeping within the music the public is mesmerized.
The presence of the big audience at this hip-hop event shows that the still kind of isolated country is changing significantly. Today, teenagers scour the Internet for tips on hip-hop fashion, dancing and music from around the world. All this evidence shows up everywhere in Hanoi: fashion stores, skater shops, dance studios and a lot of graffiti at certain places in town.
Even if you couldn’t make it to one of their performances there is still the statue of Lenin to think about. It serves on one hand as a stern reminder of the country's communist government. On the other hand this place is more and more a gathering spot for breakdancers, skateboarders and hip hop enthusiasts.
Today, the only certainty in Vietnam is that tomorrow will be different. The signs point to a bright future for hip-hop stores carry the albums of a Vietnamese hip-hop artists, such as Lil' Knight, Young Uno, and Kim. Companies selling everything from motorbikes to computers to Coca-Cola want hip hop artists for performances at promotional events. The performances all the dancers showed on stage will be another step in this direction.