Khmer students keep the flame alive for the Southern Khmer “Dù Kê” theater art


TVU – In addition to the big artists and masters, a young generation of Khmer people tirelessly “keep the flame alive” for the Southern Khmer “Dù Kê” theater art.

Sinh viên Khmer, “giữ lửa” nghệ thuật Sân khấu Dù Kê Nam bộ.
Khmer students keep the flame alive for the Southern Khmer “Dù Kê” theater art

Located in the heart of the Southwest region of Vietnam, Tra Vinh University (TVU) has been entrusted by the Prime Minister of the Government with the national key task of training human resources in the fields of Khmer Language, Culture, and Arts in the Southern region, to meet the cultural and social development needs of the area. TVU has made significant contributions to the preservation of the unique cultural heritage of the Khmer people.

“Keep the flame alive” for the Dù Kê Theater Art

Dù Kê is a traditional theatrical performance of the Khmer people that combines singing and dancing. It is a “harmony of both traditional and modern musical instruments” and is considered a unique form of Khmer theater art.

One of the young faces actively involves in preserving and promoting the Southern Khmer “Dù Kê” theater art is Thạch Thị Diệu, a third-year student majoring in Traditional musical instrument performance at TVU. Previously, Ms. Diệu graduated from a vocational school in Tra Vinh specializing in Dù Kê drama performance. With her love for her ethnic art, Diệu applied to Tra Vinh University with the desire to elevate the art of Dù Kê with new knowledge.

Sinh viên Khmer 'giữ lửa' nghệ thuật sân khấu Dù Kê Nam bộ ảnh 1

Thạch Thị Diệu excellently won the Silver Medal at the Dù Kê Theater Art Festival in the Southern.

After graduating from high school, Diệu decided to pursue her passion for the art of Dù Kê in a serious and professional way. Fortunately, she was mentored by Mr. Thạch Sung (from the Khmer Ánh Bình Minh Art Troupe), who is not only a performer but also a famous playwright and director of many acclaimed Dù Kê productions, leaving a deep and indelible impression on the audience. With his dedicated guidance, Diệu has continuously learned, improved, and made remarkable progress in dance movements, singing, and body language in even the smallest roles she played.

According to Diệu, with the development and influx of many types of entertainment nowadays, traditional arts are gradually fading away, and young people are less interested in traditional art forms, especially Dù Kê Theatre Art. In the past, Dù Kê performances were regularly held in the Khmer community in villages and hamlets, attracting a lot of attention from the community. Nowadays, Dù Kê Theatre Art is no longer popular and not regularly organized as it used to be.

Moreover, Dù Kê is an art form that requires learners to have talent and passion for the profession, to constantly learn and improve from singing, dancing, body language to acting… In addition, to be able to excel in this art form, the artist must have a certain understanding of culture and be guided and taught by experienced and dedicated artists. Thạch Thị Diệu shared.

The joy of “fire keepers”

At the second Southern Khmer Dù Kê Stage Art Festival, holding from April 1-7, 2023 at Tra Vinh University, Thach Thi Dieu takes on the role of Ammara in the play “The Costly Lesson”. With her pure beauty, sweet voice, and natural acting style, Dieu excellently wins the Silver Medal.

Dieu expressed: “I am very honored to have been trusted and given this role by the teachers. This is an opportunity for me to learn from experienced veteran artists, and also a chance to meet and exchange with my peers, which will give me more motivation to develop my love for the profession.”

Sinh viên Khmer 'giữ lửa' nghệ thuật sân khấu Dù Kê Nam bộ ảnh 2
With their pure beauty, sweet voices, and natural acting style, the female students of Tra Vinh University perform excellently in their roles.

Born into a family of artists from the Dù Kê (Khmer Anh Bình Minh Art Troupe), Thạch Mi Thu Na, a student of the 2020 Traditional Musical Instrument Performance class at Tra Vinh University, also shines in his role. At the 2023 Southern Khmer Dù Kê Art Festival, Thạch Mi Thu Na plays the role of Prince Chane Cô Rup in the play “The Costly Lesson”, winning the hearts of the audience and earning a Silver Medal.

“I had a childhood filled with the atmosphere of Dù Kê through my parents’ performances in various provinces in the Mekong Delta. Since I was young, I traveled with my parents to perform all over the place and grew up with the rehearsals of the troupe. When my parents and the troupe performed on stage, I felt the grandeur of the performances, every song, every dance, every dialogue of the characters, and that’s where I began to fall in love with the Dù Kê art of my people,” said Thạch Mi Thu Na.

Sinh viên Khmer 'giữ lửa' nghệ thuật sân khấu Dù Kê Nam bộ ảnh 3
Thach Mi Thu Na excellently wins a Silver Medal for his performance as Prince Chane Co Rup


Entrusted by the government with the important task of preserving and developing the culture and language of the Southern Khmer, we are fully aware of our enormous responsibility. In recent times, TVU has undertaken numerous effective activities that contribute to the conservation and promotion of Khmer culture, including the art of Dù Kê. Khmer students, through their profound love for their homeland and traditional art, are the “keepers of the flame”, ensuring that the beautiful cultural flame of the Khmer people continues to spread far and wide. – Assoc. Prof. Dr. Pham Tiet Khanh, Chairman of TVU Council, Tra Vinh University.