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À Ố Làng Phố - Nouveau Cirque du Vietnam
15-18 March 2018, The Civic, Auckland
Auckland Arts Festival

Reviewed by Lauren Sanderson

Nouveau Cirque du Vietnam are no ordinary circus act, the Vietnamese performance troupe have created something truly incredible with their mesmerizing theatrical show À Ố Làng Phố.

Created in 2012, as the offspring of Lang Toi, a creative project that was made to develop new forms of Vietnamese circus, À Ố Làng Phố has been performed worldwide and landed in Auckland as part of the Auckland Arts Festival.

Unlike like their previous work Lang Toi, À Ố Làng Phố explores the urbanisation of Vietnam, following the evolution of villagers toward a modern society. The piece starts off calm and collected as we are transported to peaceful villagers and as the story unfolds we voyage into the noisy and restless city – showcasing how Vietnam has changed rapidly as the pace of life has increased.  

Nguyen Tan Loc’s choreography was flawless. With a range of high-energy action movement from flips, dives, jumps and trapezes, the stunning work commanded our attention from start to finish. Not only was the movement playful, it had the audience in fits of laughter from the very beginning.

The use of simplistic props such as a range of rattan baskets and poles made from bamboo, which are commonly used by fishermen and farmers in Vietnam, represents the life, energy and spirit of the villagers as they are drawn deeper into an urban world. The baskets are used to create fast-paced synchronised movement as the dancers throw, slide and glide them to one another in time with the enchanting music. The baskets soon became boats, swings, bowls and even took on the life of an army of frogs and a gaggle of geese. 

As the piece evolved, so did Vietnam and urbanisation had truly taken over. The choreography became more modern and shied away from the beautifully authentic sequences that we saw before. Chaos had kicked in and the space became crammed with jazzercize classes, motorbikes and an unforgettable hip-hop battle that was accompanied by a beat box extravaganza.

You cannot fault any of the 15 performers, coming from all backgrounds: acrobats, jugglers, martial arts and street dance performers, each brought their own personality to their roles. The talent that they all hold individually as well as a group is phenomenal, and they not only entertain us as an audience, but they create a special bond, which is what separates them from your average circus act.

All elements of the piece complimented one another. The set was simple yet enhanced the story, the lighting captured true elements of beauty while the South Vietnamese music, otherwise known as Cai Luong, took you on a magical journey through an evolving space that represents a beacon of hope for all.

It’s captivating, energetic and tells a true story that everyone can connect too, it is the perfect example of why all elements of the arts should come together to create something truly wonderful.  It really is a show for everyone, whether you’re six or 60 – you’ll love À Ố Làng Phố.

À Ố Làng Phố by Nouveau Cirque du Vietnam

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