Belly dancer Đỗ Trọng Hùng on gender identity, expressing emotion through movement and dancing in private
Words and photos by Hoàng Long ● Translation by Trang Ngo
“Why would a man do belly-dancing?”
“Why would a man dress so sexily?”
Many people can’t help being surprised to see Hùng belly-dancing for the first time. Traditionally it is a dance for women and few men perform it. In reply, Hùng says: “To me, belly-dancing is a true art and art is for everyone. If you have passion for it, just do it…”
Hùng’s interest in belly-dancing was initially sparked by seeing it performed on TV. “I fell in love with it right away. The gentle movements of the hips, shoulders, hands…” He then started to learn to dance when he took part in a school music performance aged 12.
“It’s hard for a self-taught belly-dancer to make ends meet. There were times when I didn’t have a penny. But I’m not giving up.”
When Hùng decided to pursue the dream of dancing as a profession his father was angry, threatening to kick him out on the street if he continued. But for Hùng giving up is not an option. Hùng has tried to take his father’s harsh words as motivation, putting all his time and effort into it to show him that he can be a success. It hasn’t been easy. “It’s hard for a self-taught belly-dancer to make ends meet. There were times when I didn’t have a penny. But I’m not giving up.”
Hùng practiced in secret, away from family and friends. And he kept it up all through college, going to school during the day and working to make ends meet, dancing at night. It has started to pay off. Friends have put him forward and he has been able to get paid work at company events, coffee shops and bars. His biggest gig so far to date was his TV appearance on So You Think You Can Dance.
This article is part of the & Of Other Things special queer edition created for the Queer Forever! Festival organised by Nhà Sàn Collective. To find out more about their events and program visit their Facebook Page.
The silent interview was inspired by the regular interview series in the German Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin ‘Don’t say Anything Right Now‘, which we love.