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Online Reviews


Some Thoughts on Dance Archiving

Original text: William Chan

Translator: Claudia Law

 

From 《舞蹈手札23-1》

 

 

In recent years, the idea of ‘decluttering’ has become more popular. This makes us think about what to keep and what to get rid of. Nevertheless, when we decide what we will or won’t keep, the decision doesn’t only hinge on the sentimental value of the old items, we have to consider their cultural and historical value as well. Take the century-old underground service reservoir in Shek Kip Mei. Today it seems like just an abandoned place, but when we look into its design and architectural value, we all agree that it deserves conservation. Whether for objects or buildings, we need space for preservation. As for the performing arts, especially dance performances, with their fleeting nature, how can we record and archive them so as to aid researchers in the future?

 

The limitations of video-recording as archiving

 

First, we have to clarify a few concepts. For many people, in an age where everyone can record videos on their phone, shouldn’t we just record live performances on camera for archival work? Of course, this serves the purpose of leaving a record. The camera can record live performances on stage with high resolution, yet the video recording cannot capture the performance as a whole with the same clarity. After all, a crucial element of live performance is the rapport between the performers and the audience, and dance also emphasizes the relationship between body and space. The current 2-D form of filming and projecting on screen cannot capture the alternation of rhythms in a 3-D space, not to mention how the camera movement and editing affect the perception of the viewers.

 

Due to the limitations of the 2-D form and image size, the spatiality of the performance on stage is weakened. If we are not on site, viewing the performance solely through the camera may sometimes be an alienating experience. The energy of the performers will be unavoidably lost. Besides, watching recorded performances on digital devices will be different from watching them live in terms of sound and image. We may all understand that music and sound recording for live performance requires professional equipment and techniques. But when dance performances are filmed on camera, the significance of sound recording is often neglected. We mainly focus on the dancers’ gestures and movements on stage. Therefore, the recording doesn’t really address all five of our senses. Moreover, there is a stark contrast between viewing on screen and on stage – the colour tone transmitted through the camera is sharper, the light contrast is stronger – which makes the recording watched on screen more theatrical.

 

Organizing a comprehensive range of records for archiving

 

As a result, recording on camera is only one way of archiving dance performances. When we wish to extend the afterlife of a dance performance, allowing people to revisit the piece, we need to collect records from different stages of the production. This enables us to archive (verb) and thereafter organize the materials into an archive (noun). These records include but are not limited to the artistic concepts, creative notes, movements or rehearsal records (both in videos and photographs), drafts of the scenography, set and costume designs, the details of lighting, sound and projection design, as well as the prompt book prepared by the Stage Manager etc. Many of these materials from the early stages of production are disregarded and disappear after the performance has taken place. Even if the dance companies file such materials, there are not enough resources for continuous and systematic filing to further archive the materials for people to browse, revisit or research. They can only lie in a drawer gathering dust to wait for people with sufficiently keen interest to uncover them.

 

So, how can we organize these materials which come from dance performances? How can we file and archive them? This requires specialized skills. One method of archiving is to first organize the records into different categories, then label them with metadata, just like the way we label hashtags in our posts on social media. The labelling process serves to indicate the theme, authors and relevant key words etc. To build a successful archive, the researchers must have unified checking tools and a shared mentality. They have to insert metadata for all sorts of materials collected, which will help archive and research work in the future. Thus, while building the archive or even before the archival materials are produced, we have to imagine how future researchers will utilize the archive.

 

Preserving history: mentoring and oral history

 

Dance performances differ from theatrical or musical performances. Records of drama and music can be preserved through video, audio or text. For dance, the inner state of the dancers and the subtlety of their movements cannot really be recorded. Hence, in order to archive dance classics, preserving the materials that come from different stages of production is not enough. That would mean putting a living work into a dead box. We have to keep the work alive in order to preserve it. Dance can only be passed down through mentoring by previous generations. New dancers will learn the movements and rhythms. Bodies serve as the transmitters of history.

 

To build a dance archive for a city, preserving performances alone is not enough. More importantly, we have to let more people view the materials, so we can explore the history of dance from a wider perspective. This will involve relevant parties sharing knowledge, or independent researchers writing. Awareness of this has recently grown. For example, in 2019 two books were published – Dialogues on Dance: Hong Kong Dance Oral History (1950s – 1970s)[1] and Hong Kong Contemporary Choreographers Research 1980 – 2010: Hong Kong Contemporary Dance History, Aesthesis and Identity-Searching[2] - which are important for local dance history. Since oral history relies on the interviewees’ memory, it is hard to trace back in terms of accuracy, but at least it captures the historic development when archival materials are lacking. It is also about preserving those memories before they fade.

 

Building a Performing Arts Archive

 

To preserve historical materials, extra resources are needed. Yet, as this is not financially profitable, it is often neglected. Funding bodies won’t give extra grants for this kind of work. Local universities do not have relevant institutional units. So at present it is almost impossible for us to work on dance archiving in Hong Kong. For a long time the local performing industry has called for the creation of a performing arts archive, providing a space for the industry and researchers to organize various materials. They have aimed to curate various events to raise public awareness of performing arts. Nonetheless, the arguments put forward have failed to persuade the government to take any action.

 

While an official archive is yet to be established, in the short term all we can do is to rely on arts organizations and individuals to preserve materials on their own, and to publish the resources online later on. During this time of the pandemic, arts organizations around the world have come to understand the significance of online archives, especially in using them as a way to connect with audiences. The only concern is that production contracts might not include the terms and rights of online distribution. Many dance performances use music which is not original. So when the work is shown online, this involves another round of administrative work to deal with copyright issues.

 

[1] Joanna Lee Hoi-yin, Lam Heyee. Dialogues on Dance: Hong Kong Dance Oral History (1950s – 1970s). Hong Kong: City Contemporary Dance Company and Hong Kong: International Association of Theatre Critics (Hong Kong), 2019.

 

[2] Man, Kit-wah (ed.) Hong Kong Contemporary Choreographers Research 1980 – 2010: Hong Kong Contemporary Dance History, Aesthesis and Identity-Searching. Hong Kong: International Association of Theatre Critics (Hong Kong), 2019


舞蹈教育?還是教育舞蹈?

文:賴閃芳

轉載自 《舞蹈手札22-4》

 

 

今年城市當代舞蹈團的暑期合家歡舞蹈教育劇場——《實習魔法師的生命練習題》,是圍繞一位實習魔法師追尋生命咒語的故事。稱為「舞蹈教育劇場」,相信教育有著重要的位置。 作品嘗試教育舞蹈的知識?還是以舞蹈教育作為知識生產的方法?究竟創作者藉表演教育了觀眾什麼?又可以是什麼?

 

作品是這樣開始的:師父曾吩咐實習魔法師,想成為偉大的人,必先找到生命咒語。埋首在書本堆裡卻沒有收穫,實習魔法師唯有踏上尋覓咒語之旅。過程中他的情緒起伏跌盪:旅程的孤獨、付出而一無所穫的無力、面對衝突時的恐懼、連結而生愛但分離而生恨,最終,他發現生命的咒語就在自己心裡。導演嘗試用演出,引導觀眾明白在紛亂的世代,內在力量才是無限,無畏無懼。看畢全劇,筆者認為當中教育的意義在此。

 

舞蹈佔據大部分表演的時間,有部分舞段演員亦要參與其中。但整體而言,教育意義的傳遞,並非依賴舞蹈;故事劇情、角色的經歷、心理轉變與覺醒是意義傳遞的重要部分。若抽走故事,幾段舞蹈在風格、服裝、音樂編曲各異,難成一體:因為劇中的舞段是舞團其他作品的選段,因此段落之間關係甚微。本故事的框架與神話學家約瑟・金寶(Joseph Campbell)提出的敘事公式「英雄旅程」相似:一個踏上冒險旅程的英雄,他會在一個危機中贏得勝利,然後昇華轉變或帶著戰利品歸返到原來的世界。旅程分三個階段,「啟程」、「啟蒙」及「歸返」,其中英雄會遇上各式人物與事件,一步一步引領他覺醒。舞段就是這英雄旅程中,他所遇到的人物或事件的體現。例如《拼圖》選段的群舞,舞者在舞台上圍圈跑,象徵了主角鍥而不捨地去追尋。《雙雙》的選段則可以代表啟蒙,舞者樂知靄與黃振邦的雙人舞展現了由衝突到諒解之間的變化:一開始放大了爭執時的身體動作及探戈的運用,到後段的慢版,向對方伸延的動作。兩人讓主角看到連繫與愛,是他失望之際的當頭棒喝。

 

正正有故事的框架,舞段在此情況下被賦予較明確的意義和解讀,其實以教育年輕觀眾及小朋友舞蹈賞識的角度來說,是個不錯的方法。除了欣賞動作的設計編排和舞者的技巧與身段,由故事作引子,觀眾再去想像舞段的含意,是一個積極的意義產生過程。建議在場刊內加入版面,用簡單的問題鼓勵年輕觀眾思考作品,也可以留空一頁讓小朋友畫畫寫寫,表達觀後感。本作品除了舞者,也有幾位教育藝術家,在演出前跟小朋友互動。若能在演後也有簡單遊戲,讓年輕觀眾撿拾所看所思所感,利用演出教育舞蹈知識,並培養觀眾主動思考,筆者認為另一層面的教育意義在此。

 

藉演出教育舞蹈再順理成章不過,但舞蹈本身,作為教育的一種方法又如何?舞蹈相比其他藝術形式,與身體的關係最為密切。日常深植在身體裡的習慣與反應,當中有受社會的契約、保守的文化及各式歧視所影響。學習與觀賞舞蹈,能否更進一步解放身體裡的記憶?由鼓勵自省與改變身體動作開始,長遠地去建立更多元、更進步的社會?在此想分享社群藝術家Dan Baron Cohen 在巴西的「Rivers of Meeting」,其中他協助當地女孩建立了社區舞團AfroMundi: Pés no Chão。當地女孩承受著家庭及社會的暴力,視身體為家庭甚至國家的附屬品而不自知。通過學習各種舞蹈,一同「認識自身,反思他們早已習慣了的身體語言,漸漸自發地創造,發展出探索自身的舞蹈。」[1] 解放了身體的桎梏。她們的舞蹈作品保育非裔原住民的文化,亦探討發展造成嚴重的河流污染。將舞蹈動作放回在適當的文化脈絡底下檢視、拆解與重構,其意義不證自明。

 

教育舞蹈的作品,視舞蹈為一種可習得的知識;舞蹈教育的作品,則視舞蹈為一種知識(再)產生的方法。期望往後舞團,會探索更多後者的可能。

 

[1] 引文擷自「社群藝術論壇:文化保育」網頁: https://bit.ly/33h5yym


dance journal/hk: From the Top

By: William Chan

From dance journal/hk 20-3

 

While the past 20 years has slipped by, dance journal/hk has become firmly rooted in Hong Kong. From its beginnings as an entirely black-and-white photocopied edition, to today as a full-color printed periodical with an online version and follow-up videos, the journal has undergone many changes. How has this specialized publication, which has gained industry-wide recognition locally, made it through the past two decades? What are its seldom heard stories? Answers to these questions begin with a look at the dance ecology of the 1990s.

 

The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts (HKAPA) sent out its first dance graduates in 1988. To replace the Council for the Performing Arts, founded in the early 1980s, the Hong Kong Arts Development Council (HKADC) was established in 1995 as the statutory body to plan, promote, and support the development of the arts. More subsidies were available, directly stimulating the rapid development of local dance activities in the 1990s. At that time, many early graduates from the HKAPA organized dance companies one after another; along with the social ambience regarding the handover of Hong Kong in 1997, many thoughts on our identity and creations were sparked. However, most dance criticism in the mainstream press focused only on the productions of flagship art companies or performance tours of overseas dance companies to Hong Kong, neglecting the productions of small and medium size dance companies.

 

Willy Tsao, founder of City Contemporary Dance Company (CCDC), self-financed and published a cultural and art magazine, Crossover Magazine, in the 1990s. Through this serious publication, he hoped to encourage more reports on arts and culture, as well as contemplation and discussion after each production. Nonetheless, the subvented organization at that time, which was the Council for the Performing Arts, did not attach great importance to his work, and made various requests impeding its development. For example, instead of attention to certain types of styles or performances, the Council demanded balanced reporting on different genres of the arts. In light of these conditions, Tsao, as one of the founding members of the Hong Kong Dance Alliance (HKDA), suggested creating a brand-new dance-oriented publication, dance journal/hk.

 

Tsao intended the publication to be professional. A large readership was not sought, as it was meant for industry practitioners with an emphasis on serious discussion and commentary. According to Tom Brown, another originator of dance journal/hk, in every major metropolis around the world where dance thrives, there is a publication devoted exclusively to dance. Therefore, he hoped for such a publication in Hong Kong to provide more room for commentary about dance and space to review the works of young independent choreographers, furthering the growth of creators and nurturing dance audiences.

 

There were a lot of considerations regarding the Chinese and English names of the journal. Tsao recalls that when he tried to name the journal, his main concern was to make the theme of dance stand out in a non-academic way. After discussion, in the end, a simple and low-profile name was preferred《舞蹈手札》to《非常舞蹈》as the Chinese title. As for the English version, Brown reckoned that the word journal had a bit more weight than magazine. Although journal shares the meaning of periodical, what it implies is in fact a less scholarly diary; moreover, it was decided to have the title all in lower case letters with a tag of “/hk”. This decision was partially inspired by fashion designers of that time, who similarly tagged the initials of their cities to their brand names.

 

Starting from the second year of publication, Cecil Sze Tak-on, was engaged in the design and layout process and later also assisted in editing and writing for the journal. He talked about the lack of specialized reviewers and full-time critics in spite of attention to commentaries in the performing arts industry at that time. Although funding allowed the periodical Xpressions to launch in 1998, its reviews couldn’t save it from termination as that funding came to an end.

 

Brown pointed out that during that period, articles published in the mass media were only a few hundred words in length due to limitations of space. Listing information about production staff and a brief summary alone took most of that space, leaving not much room for a detailed critique of the production. dance journal/hk has made the publication of longer and more in-depth articles possible and has become a contemporaneous record of dance development.

 

Thinking back to the commencement of the journal, Tsao remembers a plain edition with only a few copies and even an undetermined number of pages. He and Brown would write one to two features or reviews and asked active commentators for articles. Owning to limited resources, they couldn’t pay much in remuneration to the writers. It was hard to request a contribution of articles to the journal, and most of the content consisted of material reprinted from newspapers. Tsao says that there were art reviews in South China Morning Post, Ta Kung Pao, Ching Pao, and Sing Tao Daily, and they would reprint the published articles in dance journal/hk, as a form of news clipping service for HKDA’s members. On one hand, they could save on costs; on the other hand, it was more convenient for artists, art companies, and readers to look for different reviews of productions within just one publication.

 

Brown adds that the initial aim of the journal was to include reviews on all performances every month. It would be ideal to have feature articles and the latest news in each issue, as well as in-depth articles in every other edition. However, there were not many writers, so in the early days most of the content consisted of newspaper clippings. Sze says that he helped with the clippings at first as well but discontinued with it when the administrative work from securing the rights of reprinting articles increased as a result of the amendment of the copyright ordinance later.

 

At the beginning of dance journal/hk, Tsao was the voluntary editor-in-chief who made plans and wrote articles. According to Scarlet Wong, who participated in the layout and editorial process at the HKDA, Tsao originally wanted to have a dance-themed publication that could comprehensively record dance performances in Hong Kong. With limited resources, they had to do many things by themselves. In addition to typing, layout, and proofreading, for the first two issues Wong photocopied the manuscripts at Hong Kong Ballet herself, brought the A3-sized pages back to the HKAPA, folded them into 500 copies, and gave them to the Hong Kong Dance Company to mail and distribute – a prime example of domestic processing.

 

With the subsidies for numerous projects from the HKADC, HKDA was later able to apportion a sum to support the publication of dance journal/hk by hiring professionals to design the cover, type the manuscripts, and send the journal to printshop. Yet, Wong still took over the design and layout of the inside pages, as well as the later stage of publication on her own. She admits a scant knowledge in publishing, frankly saying that she simply used Word to design the layout initially; only after some time did she learn an editing software, Pagemaker, on her own, so as to address the her lack of knowledge. A pure desire to contribute to the journal sometimes overrode aesthetic consideration.

 

As Tsao had been busy giving lectures and advancing the development of modern dance in China, it became harder for him to keep up with local performances and dance development due to his frequent departures. Therefore, Brown, who was working for the HKAPA at that time, together with Chu Kit, formed an editorial board with Tsao to cope with the editing of the journal. Sze remembers the difficult days for every team member in the first year of publication. Because of an insufficient number of articles, sometimes the journal was issued every two months instead of the intended monthly edition. Moreover, HKDA had very limited financial assistance, and with everyone’s demanding schedules sometimes it seemed there was no one person in charge of the journal. During the most difficult times, Sze happened to be available, and consequently started to follow the layout and editing work.

 

Sze also recollects that when funds for Multi-Projects Grant were used up, HKDA made another application in order to sustain dance journal/hk; however, the amount it received was reduced by half. As a result, there were only six issues a year, turning the journal into a bimonthly publication. There was a time, at one point in the journal’s history that because of an administrative error in completing the audited report for the HKADC on time, it suspended publication because funding was withheld. That was why there were only four editions of the journal in 2002 (with the fourth edition published on a self-financed basis). The journal resumed publication in early 2003 and continues to be published to this day.

 

===

All publication of dance journal/hk since 1999 can now be accessed on www.dancejournalhk.com/past-issues

 

Special thanks to the following donors in supporting 20th Anniversary Feature for dance journal/hk:

Pearl Chan

Stella Lau

Shirley Loong

Natasha Rogai

Cecil Sze

Paul Tam

Septime Webre

Kevin Wong

Sylvia Wu


藝發局成員的「3+1條件」

文︰周凡夫

 

我們需要怎樣子的香港藝術發展局(下稱藝發局)成員?這是一個藝發局每三年一次改選時很多人都會想到,但卻不一定有答案,即使有,亦各有不同的問題。

 

今年有好幾位相交多年的藝壇中人參選,我們便再一次思考這個問題,用來驗證這幾位參選者能否達標?

 

現時採用劃分「行檔」的方式來選出代表的「割裂」形式,是九十年代初文化界聯席會議多方爭取引入民選機制最後接納的妥協方案。1995年開始將藝術界割裂為不同界別來選舉,這無疑削弱了藝發局對香港文化藝術界整體發展的全景觀和高層次功能。但值得留意的是,在這機制下,每個已於某一藝術界別登記的選民,在十個界別都有投票權。所以,選民要好好利用手中的十票,選出能夠帶領本地藝術整體發展的人選。

 

在已成為現時藝發局的組成和選舉機制的現實下,參選者首要條件便應是具備有關界別的豐富專業知識,熟悉界別的運作,了解界別發展面對的問題。其次是能掌握香港整個文化藝術發展的全局,能從過去的經驗累積分析,透析到能達到未來願景的方法,在界別利益上和整體利益上取得平衡。

 

然而,藝發局成員的工作不等於立法會議員,並非「一份工」,而是「無薪義工」。為此,參選者必須要有「獻身精神」,那是指能放下個人利益,放下私心,換言之,是在做人做事上都能贏得大家尊重、信任。

 

簡言之,一個達標的藝發局成員應在做人做事的無私精神、業界專業能力,和社會與文化藝術的整體意識上,都具備高水平的條件。能百分百具備這三項條件者確是極少。盧偉力、梅卓燕、鍾小梅和吳美筠,這四位相交相知多年的朋友,基本都具備這三大條件,但有些強些、有些弱些,四人聯線正好互補,如能齊齊當選,應可為藝發局帶入新氣象。

 

其實,還有一項「額外條件」要補上,參選者要有不斷「跑馬拉松」的條件、精神和心理準備。當選後並非祇做一屆三年,而是會繼續爭取連任,要持續深耕的文化藝術才有希望!


《信報》:專業看法各有不同 藝發局選情激烈

文:《信報》卡夫卡 kafka@hkej.com

 

自從藝評獎風波發生後,藝術發展局的委員產生方法備受關注。今年,選民資格的改變,令其數目大增,也吸引了二十九名的人士,爭奪十個民選委員席位。

 

然而,其中來自香港標準舞總會及完美標準舞中心的選民數目大增約一千人,前者派出三個候選人,出選藝術行政、藝術教育和舞蹈三個範疇,其中黃作燊更同時在兩團體擔任主席級的職位,惹來「種票」的質疑。

 

推動藝術

 

而四位參選人:藝術行政的鍾小梅、藝術評論的盧偉力、文學藝術的吳美筠和舞蹈的梅卓燕,則組成「藝術3+1」的團隊。手上有一票的卡記,自然也關心藝發局的選情去向,日前這團隊特地邀約卡記進行訪談。他們均表示,希望把自己範疇的專業經驗帶進藝發局,強化其「推動藝術」的角色。

 

盧偉力為表演藝術和電影評論人,其對手王慧麟則為政經評論人。兩人的政綱各有不同取向,前者強調要成立香港演藝資料館,加強跨境交流,推動深度藝術評論的發展。

 

後者則強調增加與藝術評論相關刊物的撥款,將民間聲音納入評審機制,更主張將藝術界聲音帶進立法會議事廳。

 

盧偉力向卡記表示,自己並非「梁粉」,參選是來自於對藝評獎風波的痛心,認為藝評界沒有人出來參選,加入委員會,才令「文化評論」與「藝術評論」被混淆,也令社會產生誤解。

 

他指出,藝發局早年曾有民間主導的計劃,然後近年卻專注於「推廣」而非「研發」藝術,「希望藝發局能回到最初出發時的目標。」對手強調會令藝發局的工作更公開透明,盧也有相似想法:「十個界別的代表一定要與自己範疇的專業人士多作溝通。」

 

藝術行政

 

舞蹈家梅卓燕在康文署擔任舞蹈及多媒體小組委員多年,指出舞蹈界十多年來都面對同一個問題:「藝術家在香港生存的空間小得可憐,演出不足,即使有演出,也只是兩三場,作品還沒成形,便要完結,資源浪費了,藝術家也無法成長。」

 

作為一個資深的舞蹈工作者,她希望把新的想法帶進局中。而面對對手坐擁大量團體票,梅笑言:「希望選民能放下成見,不要山頭主義,因為即使是某一環不成功,也會影響整個舞蹈生態。」

 

吳美筠表示藝發局成立的初期,其實是由一群藝術家主導,銳意鼓勵香港優秀藝術的發展,雖有建樹,奈何近年變成「分餅仔」的團體。她與來自香港作家聯會的蔡益懷,均指出建立「文學館」等文學空間的重要性。

作為研究香港文學的學者,吳美筠更指出希望這些空間能將零散的文學活動凝聚,造成更大影響力。「其實香港在華文文學中的發展有自己的獨特性,希望不要忽略這些成就」。

鍾小梅在社會沒有「藝術行政」概念之初,就已經開始做藝術行政的工作。近年因為西九的關係,藝術行政受到政府和院校的重視,但真正能從事相關工作的人卻未見大幅增加,於是令她想參選以作出改變。

 

曾在藝發局工作的她,認為其有很多事情還需要補足,制度上也需要作出調整,「我覺得藝發局可以更主動去協助一些有潛質的藝術家,推動其專業發展,甚至助他們推向國際舞台,不只擔任分餅的角色。」藝發局佔香港整個藝術方面的預算只有2.87%,要照顧的團體卻比其他政府機構多,包括中小型團體和新進藝術家。「我覺得增加資源是必要的。」

 

卡記覺得,無論最後競選結果如何,討論過程也將為藝術界帶來不同的視野與反思,也會為藝發局在康文署和M+以外如何定位及發展,帶來一定啟示。


藝發局選舉意見撮要

文:取自【藝術 3+1】鍾小梅、盧偉力、梅卓燕及吳美筠聯手出選藝發局

 

曹誠淵:「梅卓燕是立足香港、面向國際的舞蹈家,在藝術成就與視野上都獨當一面。而 鍾小梅、盧偉力及吳美筠 都是資深做實事的藝術工作者。藝術發展局需要這班有承擔有實力的委員,才能真正發揮其倡導香港藝術文化的功能。」

 

楊春江(著名獨立舞蹈家):「(梅卓燕是)真正土生土長!真正結合了傳統中國舞蹈以至香港現代劇場丶融合西方藝術,譲歐美全球藝壇見證了香港實力的編舞丶老師及文化大使!而且小梅能真正做到熱愛所有舞種及劇場藝術:並一心要為每種舞蹈發聲丶尋求最專業的本土發展空間和國際發展機遇!我會竭盡全力支持小梅參選,並請所有支持楊春江的同儕,也以真正行動全力支持小梅!!!」

 

王仁曼:「我對梅卓燕絕對尊敬,她不只是舞者,亦是編舞,而且做事認真和優秀。我全力支持梅卓燕代表舞蹈界。」

 

林奕華:「梅卓燕,又是我們的小梅,既是本土演藝界的小妹妹,又專業、資深,有著豐富經驗的舞蹈家,支持她參選藝發局舞蹈界別主席。」


亞洲舞子聚首香江,舞壇競舞各展雄姿—— 評東邊舞蹈團《亞洲當代舞林匯演之AM篇》

文:Jonathan Ho


評論場次:2013年7月6日晚上8時
地點:牛池灣文娛中心劇場


東邊現代舞蹈團每年舉辦的《亞洲當代舞林匯演之AM篇》轉眼已踏入第四屆,與前兩屆相比,此舞蹈匯演的確漸趨成熟、漸見架構,年青舞者的舞蹈造詣亦有一定水準。觀乎現在香港演藝圈充斥著所謂「大團」或政府康文組織才可舉辦「藝術節」的奇怪文化生態,相對而言,東邊此舉確是一個甚具創意的計劃,更可說是很有膽色的舉措!東邊舞蹈團藝術總監余仁華視野之前瞻,由此可見一斑。事實上,只要放眼歐美國家的演藝生態:Off Broadway,Fringe Theatre等皆是各地開花,處處芬芳,與主流藝團互相競豔。

 

其實所謂「AM篇」是指「Asian-Male」——亞洲男舞者及全男舞者演出。平情而論,男舞者在舞蹈平台上的可塑性一向很高,他們往往能夠在剛陽氣度間流露柔情的性格;在矯健的身段中滲透著婉約的詩情!而男舞者雕塑般的身軀,在發放無限激情之餘亦會散發出煦暖的親和力! 今屆六位分別來自越南、韓國、台灣、北京與本地的年青男舞者皆各具性格,今夕雲集香江舞壇一展舞藝,有如英雄赴會,各展雄姿!

 

越南舞者Nguyen Ngoc Anh的 Motherland,以森林中的大樹比喻為自己的國家,身穿白色襯衣的Nguyen 在台中央的樹下悠然舒泰地遊走著,煦暖的陽光從樹林上映照下來,配合著越南詩歌的朗朗誦讀聲,有若仁者的叮嚀,又似天使的呼喚,最後Nguyen在地上拾起一片綠葉,接回樹上,面帶笑容地步回後台。Nguyen的 Motherland 可說是當晚較為溫暖的作品,主題亦較正面,Nguyen的作品令筆者思考到:幼樹只會在充足的養分下才能樹木成蔭;人們身處在空氣清新的林蔭下才會心曠神怡,由此可見筆者的期盼:自由的創作風氣可以不分國界,到處一樣,花開遍地,綠樹成林。

 

兩位來自韓國的舞者,全爀振與李廷仁的作品皆充滿東方的哲思。先言全爀振的Small Convenience,其全套作品的燈光就只有台中央吊下來的一盞燈,燈由貼著地板開始漸漸升起,令人聯想起日出,身穿黑色舞衣的全就在這盞燈的燈光內外下舞動著。表面看來全的舞姿表現得很「不優美」,在韋達利卡農曲動人的旋律下更顯得「不協調」!然而全爀振如此的拼貼卻出現攝人的電影效果,不禁令人慨嘆,人生的種種無奈與悲情愁緒,古今皆是一樣,只是表達的方法不同而已:韋的歌曲籍提琴低訴;全則靠舞姿演繹出來。原來詩人思緒、舞者心聲,可以相隔百載而神交。

 

同樣,李廷仁在 Little Society的舞律皆受台上不同大小的圓形燈區所「規範」。李的舞步只能「受制」於一圈又一圈的燈區之下;圈子愈大,他的舞姿便如池魚泳㵎般可以悠然自得;圈子愈小,他的舞步卻如龍游淺灘,變得無奈。我們每天生活在各個大大小小的生活圈子內,其中能遊走得泰然自若的又有多少!? 全和李的舞蹈身段甚佳,加上兩人漸建風格的編舞技巧,相信日後在現代舞壇可更放異彩!


而台北張堅豪與香港岑智頣的作品,則相對較為新嫩,然亦不失年輕伙子的憤世激情。張的 Myself 與岑的 Freak 皆藉舞台的光影與自編的舞蹈表達對身處社會的不滿;看似「不協調」的動作、處處制肘著舞步的燈區與台上放著的空椅子,皆有如樂與怒坦率的歌詞般,唱盡慘綠少年的悲歌!他們二人年紀尚輕,作品或見粗糙,卻可反映出少年人的率真性情!他倆只要日後多作觀摩鑽研,累積編舞與人生經驗,他日舞壇必可更見成績!

 

北京舞者劉斌的 13:03:05.03 相信是當晚最具理性邏輯思維的一套作品。那計時器冷漠地在看似是化驗室的舞台上倒數著,劉在台上有規律地不停背向觀眾舞動著,然後在計時器倒數到一個單元數字時,他的舞衣上不斷有金色的小豆從身上掉下來,金豆的掉下卻沒終止劉的舞動!直至劉身上的金豆全都掉落,劉才停下舞步面向觀眾,看似突然從夢遊中甦醒了一樣!最後,後台兩側瀉出滿地金豆才終止全舞。此舞在理性邏輯間反映出人生與時間的哲理,值得深思。

 

綜觀而論,今年東邊舞蹈團的《亞洲當代舞林滙演之AM篇4》可說是成績不俗。亞洲年輕舞蹈人材可以聚首香江一展舞藝;香港觀眾亦可藉此良機觀摩亞洲各國的舞藝姿彩,這個舞壇的雙贏局面相信人人樂見。其實,除了韓國、越南與台灣以外,日本、泰國與馬來西亞都有不少出色的舞蹈人材,如泰國Khon舞傳人Pichet與馬來西亞「南群舞子」皆是優秀的舞蹈家,若在將來的《亞洲當代舞林滙演之AM篇》可以欣賞到來自更多亞洲國家的舞蹈作品,實在賞心樂事!


Cultural Borders: Lost in Translation, Review of Dance Solo (part of Namasya)

By foraskywalk

 

A child of East and West, India-born, Paris-bred Shantala Shivalingappa performed Solo, a15- minute piece co-choreographed with Pina Bausch. While some dancers enjoy solitude, this particular night of July 1, 2012 saw Shivalingappa rather lonely at the Joyce Theater, New York, distant from both her Eastern and Western audiences.

 

Trained in traditional Indian Kuchipudi, Shivalingappa describes her desire to explore contemporary dance as “equally compelling”. Sadly her show turned out to be a stereotypical culture shock where an excellent Asian dancer falls short at Western dance because she is missing the almost instinctive judgment accumulated from a lifetime of exposure and comparisons. Granted, Shivalingappa is one of the few ‘mixed kids’ who do not have such an ‘excuse,’ but it only shows how important it is.

 

Dancing with Bausch, Shivalingappa learned to “feel and think about movement in a different way, from its conception to its execution: spontaneity, freedom and rigor, fluidity.” Bausch was Shivalingappa’s first encounter with a ‘different’ way of dancing - indeed so different that it proved too difficult. The freedom and fluidity preached by the German choreographer remained foreign to the Indian dancer.

 

Beneath a single overhead light, Shivalingappa emerged from the wings in Bausch‘s signature floor-caressing black silk dress. Starting with a wide squat and rippling arms, she went on to portray a variety of roles: a sentimental teenager weaving while thinking of her lover, a peacock looking around with sharp, expressive eyes, an exotic Hindu goddess speaking with eloquent fingers. None of these, however, exhibited the same level of energy exploding from the helpless falls and doomed embraces that proclaim, unmistakably, Bausch. The choreographer is a master of images of pain and imprisonment where dancers lash their bodies angrily against their lovers as if they have to hurt in order to feel. But Shivalingappa interpreting these images was energy-less, passion-less. If she had loved, her love was neither poignant nor splendid. Her low energy left plenty of ‘empty space’ on stage that became dead air just the way a dull background in a painting is little more than a blank canvas.

 

The Asian aesthetics of subtlety may be to blame. Unlike Western culture where freedom and openness thrive, Asians tend to subdue their emotions. Take sentiments such as “I love you” for example - a universal expression found in the arts - while Western ballet dancers mime the message by pointing at each other followed by crossing their hands over their hearts, Asians simply lower their head, cover their mouth with hands, and flash a loving glance; shyness is a virtue in women. So it’s only natural that Shivalingappa - like her veiled sisters - finds it hard to unchain the sassy Bausch girl within.

 

Inarticulate and unexpressive, her movements also lacked coherence and smoothness. They appeared stiff, almost contorting the body mechanically from one pose to another. The ‘machine’ was poorly lubricated just as the steps were not smoothly transitioned. When she shifted directions, the momentum crashed; when she gestured, it froze in midair while the music continued. As a member of the audience, I felt like choking as her body snagged on awkward transitions or got caught in clumsy shapes, her impetus dragged or became hyperactive.

 

Something was wrong with her phrasing. A phrase links up separate moves so that they form a logical, pleasing or expressive shape. A great dancer can spin steps into long, flowing, seamless skeins of dance where each action emerges as a natural and inevitable consequence of the previous. Such fluency would have flattered Shivalingappa immensely - and made Bausch smile.

 

Phrasing is intimately connected to the way dancers listen to music. Musicality determines a dancer’s basic ability for keeping time. Solo is set to a Bossa Nova-like ballad titled Paris. Romantic and abstract, the rhythm proved too ‘foreign’ for Shivalingappa who actually grew up in Paris, oddly enough. An indulgent face with closed eyes was betrayed by a nervous mind counting every beat. Is it because she, primarily trained in Kuchipudi, is more used to classical Indian music? In fact, most of her shows are accompanied by live bands that must easily accommodate her steps or provide more solid cues.  This is a major let down, for a dancer with superb musicality should be able to bring the tunes to life as if they were singing through her veins and reaching out to the audience through her smiles, glances, and fingertips. Paradoxically her steps should also move ‘inside’ the music, pushing and pulling it into the shapes of the dance. But Shivalingappa to whom Paris sounded so ‘foreign’, was enable to evoke such beautiful illusions.

 

Poor musicality is one sin; bodily awareness is another that contributed to her lack of flowing grace; to be precise, her weak consciousness of the body as a whole. This may again be the result of Asian aesthetics.

 

First, her background in Kuchipudi. Unlike ballet’s high jumps and contemporary dance’s wild swings, Kuchipudi dance rarely strikes out into space. Movements are activated in the air immediately surrounding the body; the interest is focused on details in gestures, glances, and feet. These are miniature dances that would be lost if the body had to travel huge distances, which is usually the case in Bausch’s works. Shivalingappa, while excelling in Kuchipudi, turned out to be an outcast in the modern, Western choreographyof Solo. She struggles with the contrast between the taut and relaxed, active and passive, acceleration and delay.

 

Apart from Kuchipudi, many other Asian dances also focus on details performed by individual body parts. Fawn Thai for instance, concentrates the audience’s gaze on 6-inch brass fingernails and palms holding lit candles. The rest of the body either moves monotonously or remains still, i.e. kneeling. Likewise, Japanese Butoh specifically confines movements in the space of four tatami (the average Japanese home space). Its pursuit of convulsive beauty clearly contradicts with ‘flowing grace’.

 

Generally, dancers performing traditional Asian dances differ from those doing Russian, American, and European work in that their movements are smaller; they dance ‘within’ themselves rather than striking out; they are brilliant rather than bold. The devil is in the details. This stems from the cultural ideal of ‘femininity’ for women: reserved, timid, obedient. These qualities are both inherited and internalized in the black hair, brown eyes, and petite bodies. On the contrary, Western choreographers see the body as a whole, exemplified by such principles as ‘fall and recovery’ in Doris Humphrey’s work and ‘contract and release’ in Martha Graham’s work.

 

Indian and Parisian in one, Shivalingappa purports to blend her nature with nurture, and dazzle us with a cross-cultural extravaganza. But the “spontaneity, freedom, rigor, and fluidity” she learned from Bausch, where have they gone?

 

In the age of globalization, it is argued that only the national can go global. Shivalingappa is motivated by – and respected for, her strong desire to bring Kuchipudi to Western audiences.  However, when it comes to contemporary dance, the cultivation of “kinesthetic sixth sense” owes much to cultural immersion. Shivalingappa must have had little, despite her residency in Paris, given her Kuchipudi training and a mother (dancer Savitry Nair) who, after rehearsals, goes to temples instead of bars.

 

Of course, it’s difficult for artists of one genre to develop an equally sophisticated taste in another. And cultural roots are usually deeper than we’re aware. Shivalingappa is one of the few young dancers ambitious enough to attempt at transcending borders. This alone is worth a “Bravo!” Indeed, more should muster up their courage to cross cultural barriers. By the same token, audiences can better appreciate exotic arts with an open mind and pristine eyes. Hands joined, hearts connected, boundaries blurred, soon enough, we will no longer be lost in translation.

 

 

References:

 

Mackrell, Judith. Reading Dance. London: Michael Joseph. (1997).

 

Namasya Press Kit. http://www.perdiem.fr/IMG/pdf/Namasya_Press_Kit.pdf. (Accessed 10/09/2012).


關於《真演出》新系列──《自.摸》

文:Zachary SIN

 

從「自摸」兩字,不難令人聯想起兩性關係。關於性與愛?又或是……?賞畢,深覺那其實是探索人生哲學的舞品。

 

整個演出約45分鐘,但在內容和探索論點上相當廣泛而具有獨特的觀點。作品包括八個片段,當中涉及人性的本質、生活反映和人生態度的探索,整晚彷彿帶領觀眾走過一個人生的剪影。

 

開首由一位青春少艾只穿內衣在淋浴,一次又一次洗潔自己的嬌軀,彷彿要洗滌自己的身心,令作品在命題和內容的延伸變得更具體化,配合她彷如音樂/舞蹈般一樣有節奏和激情的動作,令觀眾帶著輕鬆而專注的態度欣賞美感。編舞者善於掌握重點作內容表達,在〈Here and There〉的一幕中,六人輕鬆愉快合照後,各人各自離開,但情感上卻明顯有濃淡之別,給人一個思考課題:「人與人之間的愛,究竟是被地域空間所限制,或是被自身的情感所困?」又如〈Home Sweet Home〉的片段,在簡潔的舞台上,舞者多番以手腳作伸展舞姿和轉圈,令觀眾更了解空間感對每個人的重要。事實上,對一個家而言,空間絕對是一個很重要的因素,。編舞者在有限的資源和時間下,多番令大家有一個貼近生活的思考機會。

 

現今很多表演藝術作品會加入錄像播放,原因是其內容很多時未必容易表白和釋義。是次透過錄像呈現少女們在進行麻雀耍樂的神態,突顯女性在語言行為上的真實反映,清楚易明,當中的喻意令人會心微笑。

 

表演藝術的價值核心,最重要之一是能否帶給觀眾積極或有意義的訊息;畢竟,在營營役役的生活裡,藝術作品所散發的正能量,仿佛帶給普羅大眾一次心靈更新機會。正如在〈Joy〉的內容表達上,畫面上呈現眾人面帶笑容,讓我們知道每個人都可享有快樂和喜悅,哪管是不同國家和階層,只要我們給予自己和別人一個真誠的微笑。

快樂──原來真的如此簡單。謝謝你,《自.摸》。


《真演出》新系列之《對夢說……》

文︰Zachary SIN

 

這是一次難得與夢想再次擁抱的機會。

 

透過錄像效果,開首時放映一群小孩對夢想的看法,天使?警察?令現場觀眾會心微笑之外,更為演出設定一個明確信息:「每個人都有夢想的權利。」

 

將氫氣球比喻夢,其中一幕氫氣球游走於舞者的身軀,相信令不少人有所啟發,原來夢想仿如血液一樣,可以支持整個人的生命,令生活變得充滿意義和熱忱;當充滿水的氫氣球在半空中爆破一幕,舞者失落的表情和身體動作,配合燈光的襯托下,相信令不少觀眾感到動容,正如上文所言,如果夢想是血液的話,失去的──必可以重新再來。

 

雙人舞,三人舞甚至群舞,默契配合是相當重要,在《與牆對話》一幕中,舞者既要關注身體的平衡,還要顧及團體合作和時間的掌握,難得的是時間沒有落差,節奏清晰,而且在肢體伸展給予人有活力和力量的感覺。

 

因為舞者全是年輕人,對夢想自有堅持追求,配以是次演出主題,個人覺得是一次「真人表演」,因而容易令情緒自然流露,哪個青年沒有夢想?

 

哪個青年沒有跌過?問題在乎能否站起來,含著淚再次奮鬥;似乎是次表演不單是夢想一份釋義,也是舞者對自己重新一次的認識;這是追求藝術生命可貴之處。

 

編舞嘗試利用不同空間加強表達效果,利用不同角度呈現舞蹈變化;急速地在劇場奔走和站在「島」上呈現舞姿,讓身體動作充份呈現「闊度」和「高度」,正如夢想可以存在不同的時空交錯的空間一樣。

 

在只有50分鐘的演出時間,探討一個近乎哲理的問題,尤其在沒有語言的舞蹈藝術上,令觀眾對夢想有所體會,是殊不容易的安排,從一個簡單而有力的內容脈絡,對夢想的釋義──對夢想的不懈不捨追求,當中的挫折──重新再來,藉音樂歌詞的雋永意思,藉訪問對談加強人性化內容,到末段,藉一群長者對未來和原來對夢想一份反思,同時亦令觀眾思考一個新論題:年歲和夢想是否有相互和絕對性關係?夢想是否年輕人的權利?透過一群年青舞者開放態度和滿有力量的舞蹈動作,說明理想的重要和可貴。

 

綜觀整個作品具清新意境和富誠意之作,在簡約的佈置,加上柔和音樂和歌聲襯托下,讓大家有機會檢視過去,現在和未來,最重要是作品啟發觀眾對夢想有一次更深入接觸,至於是否繼續追夢或放棄,完全取決於自己。

 

『成敗乃一念間。』