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Arabesque Dance Company, Tich Tac

Tich Tac (‘tick tock’), the new contemporary dance show by the Arabesque Dance Company, debuted over National Day weekend in Ho Chi Minh City to the buzz of numerous Vietnamese newspapers, magazines and MTV segments.

The seven-act performance follows a girl on her journey to becoming a dancer. Composed by four different choreographers, the show is a spectacle of the American 1950s-styled dresses, flowing fabrics, aerial displays and Velcro bodysuit stunts. Coming off his collaboration with the AO Show, a ‘new circus’ production which continues to run intermittently at the Saigon Opera House, director Tan Loc utilises some bold new staging techniques to create his latest awe-inspiring visual tapestry.

From operatic singer Ngoc Tuyen to up-and-coming fashion designer Nguyen Cong Tri to multimedia sculptor Nguyen Thuy Hang, the show successfully pulls together a wide range of players from seemingly opposed cultural scenes. While the dynamic collaboration contributes to the impact, it also fragments the narrative. As the old saying goes, too many cooks spoil the broth.


A Wobbling Beauty

The proof of Tich Tac’s struggle to define itself can be seen by the individual acts oscillating between being literal to being too abstract. Case in point — the show opens with an adorable girl sitting on a spinning circular platform, listening to a musical snow globe. This is followed by the extended twirl of two female dancers and then a third (from the colour of the costumes, it seems one of them is the young girl). Then a young boy walks across the stage, with an impressive male contemporary ballet solo. Suddenly, there are now three couples on stage, then four vibrantly youthful men dancing in formation.

By the time the same adorable little girl graces us again with her appearance, it becomes clear that a step or two has been missed. Fortunately, most of the audience doesn’t mind — because they are too amazed by the operatic singer who has been hanging upside down from the ceiling and singing Ave Maria.

Aside from narration, there are a few areas in which the show could improve, such as the sound and lighting effects. However, these factors aren’t dealbreakers — Arabesque is a small, family-styled dance company, and these hiccups are part of the charm. That said, the show has been conceptualised, choreographed and performed in only a handful of months; such a work ethic is deserving of praise by any standards.
Tich Tac’s charm is undeniable. Is it worth seeing? Without a doubt. Does it has the calibre of an off-Broadway show? No, but it might just have a surprising climax that will thrill and put a smile on your face in unexpected ways. — Kelly L. Le

For more information on Arabesque and to keep up-to-date on future performances, visit arabesque.com.vn

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