Keeping Bai Choi alive

Friday, 26/02/2021, 15:00 [GMT+7]

Keeping Bai Choi alive

Over many years, the art of Bai Choi in Khanh Hoa Province has been preserved and kept alive through many ups and downs thanks to the passion and efforts of enthusiastic artists.
 
Developing interest over time 
 
Artist Tran Thi Bach Lan (Cam Lam District, Khanh Hoa Province) has recently written lyrics for a Bai Choi performance. Lan loves poems and often sets her poems to tunes of Bai Choi to create something new for Bai Choi performances as well as to convey her personal feelings through music.
 
 
Artist Bach Lan is performing a Bai Choi song
Artist Bach Lan is performing a Bai Choi song
 
At the age of 60, artist Bach Lan has performed and got involved in Bai Choi performance for 21 years. She grew fond of folk art forms in general and Bai Choi in particular when she was 13. At that time, she often went to the village communal house with her family to see Bai Choi performances. Her interest in this folk art form grew over time. Since 2000, Bach Lan has regularly performed in festivals and art shows at all levels and won many prizes.
 
Artist Le Hong Yen (Ninh Dong Commune, Ninh Hoa Town) is a well-known Bai Choi male singer in Khanh Hoa. Hong Yen has maintained his love for Bai Choi for 50 years. He has travelled throughout the town to perform Bai Choi. At present, in his 60s, Hong Yen has still actively involved in teaching young generations Bai Choi singing skills. “I can perform confidently on stage thanks to the conscientious instructions of artist Hong Yen,” said Nguyen Thi Ha in Ninh Giang Ward, Ninh Hoa Town. 
 
Succeeding family’s profession
 
Brother and sister Nguyen Thanh Dung and Nguyen Thi Kim Chi (Dien Khanh Town) are the two familiar faces at public art shows. Coming from a family of three generations doing traditional art, artists Thanh Dung and Kim Chi were taught and trained by their maternal grandfather, artist Nguyen Duong, when they were little children. Their family had their own troupe, so Thanh Dung and Kim Chi often had opportunities to go on tours with the troupe along the central provinces. Growing up in such an environment of artistic activities, they have developed a passionate interest in traditional folk art.
 
 
Artist Kim Chi performing Bai Choi
Artist Kim Chi performing Bai Choi
 
When he was 17, Thanh Dung could perform Bai Choi confidently at Bai Choi Tet shows. Now, at the age of 43, he can play the main character in Bai Choi performance or the game leader in Bai Choi game. He has won many prizes at the national and regional contests. Kim Chi also has an admirable collection of achievements. Impressively, she can play both male and female characters in Bai Choi performance.  
 
Since 2013, artists Thanh Dung and Kim Chi have been the members of Khanh Hoa Bai Choi Club and often perform at Bai Choi games held at the beach park near 2-4 Square (Nha Trang City) on weekends. In 2014, the two artists were chosen to get involved in the document preparation process for the art of Bai Choi in the Central of Viet Nam to be recognized as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity by UNESCO. After Bai Choi was inscribed on the UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, Thanh Dung and Kim Chi took part in many activities in the province to introduce Bai Choi to the public and promote this folk art form. In 2018, the two artists joined the programs of Vietnam National Institute of Culture and Arts Studies to make a documentary about Bai Choi.
 
The artists have also expressed their concern how to teach young generations Bai Choi efficiently when they got older and how to build up a contingent of skilled and enthusiastic Bai Choi artists.
 
 
Artist Thanh Dung is performing a Bai Choi song
Artist Thanh Dung is performing a Bai Choi song
 
Khanh Hoa Provincial People's Committee has recently proposed that the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism recognize artists Bach Lan, Hong Yen, Thanh Dung and Kim Chi as meritorious artists. According to Le Van Hoa, Deputy Director of the Department of Culture and Sports, these artists have good skills of Bai Choi performance and Bai Choi game and have contributed much to the preservation and promotion of this folk art form in Khanh Hoa.
 
Giang Đinh
Translated by H.N