Preservation of Bai Choi needs involvement of professional artists

Friday, 27/08/2021, 16:00 [GMT+7]

Preservation of Bai Choi needs involvement of professional artists

Bai Choi is a unique folk art in Khanh Hoa Province in particular and the central provinces of Vietnam in general. In order for this cultural heritage to be preserved in a methodical method, it needs involvement of professional artists. The standardization of methods aims to limit the variants of Bai Choi practice in different localities. 
 
The art of Bai Choi in Central Viet Nam which was inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2017 by UNESCO include Bai Choi game (played in bamboo huts with cards) and Bai Choi performance (performed on a rattan mat). However, in Khanh Hoa, besides this art of Bai Choi, there is also Bai Choi stage (revolutionary Bai Choi, performed on stage) that appeared in 1974. Bai Choi stage also uses familiar song repertoires of the art of Bai Choi. In Bai Choi stage, the performers are considered as artists and actors, performing plays with themes, plots, and characters.
 
 
Artists of Khanh Hoa Traditional Art Theatre preforming Bai Choi game
Artists of Khanh Hoa Traditional Art Theatre preforming Bai Choi game
 
In some Bai Choi classes taught by artists specializing in Bai Choi, learners were only taught and provided performance techniques without the theory about the meaning of each card, explanations of singing, and analysis of the melodies. Therefore, if the classes are taught by artists from Binh Dinh Province, learners will learn to sing and perform Bai Choi practiced in Binh Dinh. The melody for each card is the same, but the performance techniques are different depending on the artists in charge of the classes. 
 
In an article published in the July issue of Nha Trang Magazine, musician Hinh Phuoc Lien said that there are opinions contrasting the folk art of Bai Choi and the stage art of Bai Choi. In fact, the core elements of Bai Choi stage performances are still Bai Choi folk songs. Bai Choi stage artists have both basic techniques of how to sing Bai Choi folk songs and also theatrical performance skills. Bai Choi stage also derives and develops from the folk art form of Bai Choi.
 
Variants are a unique element of folk art, but we need to limit the situation of “A tale never loses in the telling” in teaching Bai Choi. It should be considered to invite artists who have good performance techniques and knowledge of Bai Choi to open Bai Choi classes to equip learners with both performance techniques and theory.  
 
After two years of implementing the project of protecting and promoting the values of the intangible cultural heritage of Bai Choi, Khanh Hoa’s culture sector has trained and taught Bai Choi to 40 people in communes and wards; held Bai Choi programs in 15 schools in the province; arranged a site for Bai choi performances in Ninh Hoa Town; collected and compiled some documents of Bai Choi, etc. The provincial museum is collecting documents and artifacts relating to Bai Choi in Khanh Hoa; the provincial Center for Culture and Cinema has planned to incorporate Bai Choi into high schools and junior high schools in localities where Bai Choi is practiced.
 
According to Associate Professor, PhD Nguyen Binh Dinh, former director of Institute of Music (under the Vietnam National Academy of Music), Bai Choi in Khanh Hoa has many distinctive features such as orchestra structure, musical structure, singing and performance styles. The province also has many Bai Choi artists and many activities to preserve and promote the values of this art form.
 
Giang Đinh
Translated by H.N