“Dance, like life, is fleeting from moment to moment”-Dam Van Huynh.

Originally from Southern Vietnam, Dam Van Huynh is a UK based dancer/choreographer. As a child refugee, his family and he fled Vietnam after the war and settled in the USA where Dam was raised. He founded his own company in 2008, Van Huynh Company. From the very beginning, his work was distinctive and reflected his deep interest in redefining the body and its movement capability. As a dancer, he has worked with The Nevada Ballet, Merce Cunningham, Richard Alston, CeDeCe and Phoenix Dance Theatre. He was a Place Prize finalist and a Resident Artist at The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. He is currently Associate Artist with Dance United and supported by Arts Council England, Step Out Arts, Plymouth University and Déda. Dam led a three week intensive research in Kolkata with local artists resulting in a new creation. This new work was presented as part of Dance Bridges Festival at Kala Mandir Auditorium.Van Huynh Company also performed two works from the repertoire.

pic courtesy - www.damvanhuynh.com
Walk me through the steps that take a piece from your imagination to the stage.

All my works begin with the artist and my self within the space. I believe a work already exist within a space between the collaborators. My job is to pull everything out into the open, then remove the elements that don't belong. Whatever is left, regardless of whether I feel it is good or not, must be the honest reveal of where each collaborating artist is in their lives. Almost in a therapeutic process, I ask that the dancers participating in my creation leave everything out in the open: the good, the bad and the scary. I personally prefer dancers as they are without any pretense of being anything else. That is to say, it is okay for me if you have challenges within your life. I don’t wish for a dancer to pretend that everything is perfect. All I ask is that the energy be channeled through the work. This keeps everything real, honest and raw.

pic courtesy - www.damvanhuynh.com
How many people are there backstage in a typical performance? (lights, sound, props)

Each production is unique in terms of its technical support. A standard production will always have a stage/technical manager who is often support by 1 or 2 stage crew members. A sound engineer will also be included for most premieres to ensure high standard of sound quality. The lighting designer will often be present for the premiere of the work after which time all the technical aspects of lighting will be pass on wards to the technical manager. Equally, there will often be myself as the choreographer/Artistic Director and a rehearsal director who will take notes at every performance to be delivered to the performers the following day.

How does dance differ from other arts (music, painting, sculpture) to create an emotional experience?

Dance, like life, is fleeting from moment to moment. You aren’t able to touch it; because it dissipates as fast as it materialises, you can’t contain it in a box to be treasured later. Once the experience has happened both performer and audience members are left affected by its fleeting memory and only retain an imprint of the experience.

pic courtesy - www.damvanhuynh.com
Many people love to dance. How is free-form dancing different from choreographic dance?

I think for me the major difference between free-form dance and choreographic dance is the way it is framed and shared amongst people. Choreographic dance requires the final element of audience in order to complete its process whilst free-form dance needs neither such context nor final element in order to exist.

If someone wants a career in dance, say a teen, where should they start (what are the basics?)

When a young dancer (a teen) is beginning his/her development in dance, my best advise would be to take as many dance classes as possible. Engage with as much experiences both on the stage and in the studio as possible. The most important thing about starting a career development in dance is to ignite the passion and hunger for the art form. It is with this sense of passion that will be a young dance artist greatest tool for development through the demands and rigors of dance training.

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