Vietnamese Talents
From math to hip-hop, a leap of faith
  • | Tuoi tre | June 02, 2011 10:17 PM

Hotsteps, a dance competition held every two years to unearth talent in high schools and universities in Hanoi, crowned its winner on May 28.

Hip-hop dancer Ha Le - Photo: Lao Dong

But for the audience, the performance of the night was not by a contestant but by a member of the jury, Ha Le.

He is one of Vietnam’s leading hip-hop dancers and an unusual creature in many ways.

He graduated from the UK’s Nottingham Trend University with a degree in mathematical economics in 2003 before taking to hip-hop, only to realize that was his life’s calling.

“I took dance lessons in Nottingham city after watching ‘Honey’, a movie [featuring Jessica Alba] that inspired me,” Le said in an interview.

“I wasn’t serious at first, but the dance gradually drew me in so much that I could not keep my mind off it anymore.”

So, motivated, education complete, he packed his bags and left for London to pursue a hip-hop career.

It was not an easy decision to trade in what he had built up for an uncertain future.

His parents were dead against it.

“My mother cried a lot when I first talked about this, and my father did not talk to me for three months.”

But his mind was made up.

After a few years he became a professional hip-hop dancer in London, and even opened a company called Sacred Entertainment that at times employed more than 30 dancers.

He worked regularly with MTV Base Europe, RMusic TV, God TV and for concerts like International Breakin\' Convention, Choreographer\'s Festival, and Dancer\'s Delight.

Le also taught at major dance companies in the UK like Boy Blue, Avant Garde, Birdgang, and Zoonation.

In 2008 he returned to Vietnam and quickly became a respected choreographer, working with the biggest names in the entertainment industry.

“My only wish is to be able to do what I love, to meet new people, and learn from them in my country.

“I want to help develop hip-hop and [other] dancing here.”

He has kept his word. Since 2008 his company, again named Sacred Entertainment, has organized and sponsored events to spot and nurture talent.

Ring Masterz, one of Vietnam’s most famous hip hop-competitions, is a Sacred Entertainment baby.

“What set the competition from others is that it allows dancers from different provinces to meet and battle and the attendance of world-class referees,” Ha Le talked about the annual nationwide dance battle passionately.

“Young dancers have a chance to learn new techniques from the experienced, not just through videos or the internet which is the usual way in Vietnam.”

More than 800 dancers had signed up for the 2nd Ring Masterz contest earlier this year, revealing an enthusiasm for the genre that many people had feared was lacking.

Le plans to start more dance contests like Ring Masterz, organize a festival for young choreographers, and is experimenting with a fusion of hip-hop and theatre.

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