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[中][Eng]中國(內地)為甚麼需要舞蹈戲劇構作?

文:孫曉星


首先,從近期中國的重要事件考慮,特別是國慶70周年慶典和冬季奧運會,我們可以觀察到在這些國家級的重大慶典中,舞者的身體往往轉化為一種「被徵用」的對象。在類似活動的籌備階段,位於首都的北京舞蹈學院師生們根據上級指示,集體投身於排練,且受到挑選的舞種通常是民族舞,而非芭蕾或現代舞。由於經常獲得官方的青睞,在舞蹈學院內部,中國民族民間舞蹈系也佔有極大的話語權。同時,更具個人表現性的現代舞自二十世紀傳入中國以來,一方面被看作舞蹈技術的一種補充,另一方面卻因其被認為是西方自由主義意識形態的文化滲透,而受到了一定程度的「提防」,以避免其過度發展。

 

但是,與實驗戲劇領域交叉最多的,恰恰是現代舞。1998年,由楊美琦領導的廣東實驗現代舞團主辦的第二屆廣東現代藝術小劇場展演節,促成北京的生活舞蹈工作室、紙老虎戲劇工作室和上海的Z組合(組合嬲的前身)的南方聚會,在遠離制度中心的地帶,實現了一次戲劇與舞蹈的會師。在這些獨立團體中,儘管「舞蹈戲劇構作」(dance dramaturgy)這一職位尚未被正式命名,但類似的工作已悄然發生。電影或戲劇導演出身,且具有寫作背景的藝術家如吳文光、田戈兵、張獻等,雖非舞者,卻與舞者攪在一起,製造了中國(內地)舞蹈劇場的早期現場。


第二屆廣東現代藝術小劇場展演節場刊House programme of the 2nd Guangdong Modern Art Experimental Theatre Festival(照片由孫曉星提供 Photo provided by Sun Xiaoxing)


舞蹈劇場(dance theatre)與舞蹈戲劇構作形成了相輔相成的關係。有時,當舞蹈創作者希望跨界至劇場領域時,他們會引入戲劇學者、編劇甚至導演,來充當舞蹈戲劇構作的角色。這一職位的設立,甚至比其具體工作內容本身更具意義,因為它關涉到一個身份問題,團隊成員的多樣化和雜糅性有助於作品跳出既有的圈層,與戲劇的結合也是現代舞者於窄門之中拓寬生存空間的策略。舞蹈的劇場化首先體現在對舞蹈或舞者身體的去中心化,這與後戲劇劇場對傳統戲劇劇本的去中心化採取了相似原則,其目的都為賦予身體、空間、視覺、文本等劇場元素以對等位置。舞蹈戲劇構作彌補了舞者在非舞蹈語言方面的不足,從而成為舞者進入劇場的橋樑。再者,舞者一般習慣通過個人化、情緒化的方式來描述作品,而舞蹈戲劇構作則能將這些分散的感受置入一個更明晰的歷史政治語境中,以此連接個人體驗與當下社會的普遍議題。

 

近年來,在孟京輝導演擔任藝術總監的戲劇節中,舞蹈或肢體戲劇版塊總是被特別開闢,使得舞蹈劇場的身影頻繁出現,儘管這也引發了關於戲劇節中「舞蹈」含量過高的質疑。同時,在當代藝術展覽的開閉幕式活動上,舞蹈也常被邀請以增添興致。然而,值得反思的是,在消費主義與青年文化交匯的當下,常以環境舞蹈、裝置舞蹈、時裝舞蹈等形式在景點、美術館或時裝秀中露出的舞蹈表演,正在使所謂的個性化、年輕且健美的身體轉變為文化旅遊和地產中的流量工具。

 

戲劇構作不僅是工作方法,它同樣代表了某種特定的政治文化立場。在中國(內地),戲劇構作率先被民間獨立劇團和舞團所採納,這標誌著創作者將自己與流行展品或宣傳工具區分開來的文化自覺。此外,由於長期的競技化傾向,舞蹈已逐漸與思想領域疏離,舞蹈戲劇構作作為一種學術支持,則促進舞蹈與前沿思想重新展開對話。比方,最近將後人類主義、生態主義等理念帶進舞蹈劇場,孕育出像L-square Performance 直角尺獨立表演《我們談論的是關於未來》、三種碗合作社《流量》、草字頭展演集團《蘑菇》等作品,都是由青年舞蹈編導與戲劇構作聯手的結果。


三種碗合作社《流量》©️馮躍紅Traffic by Three Bowls Cooperative © Feng Yuehong (照片由孫曉星提供 Photo provided by Sun Xiaoxing)


草字頭展演集團《蘑菇》©️李小草Mushroom by Double-Grass Performance Group © Li Xiaocao(照片由孫曉星提供Photo provided by Sun Xiaoxing)


近期,筆者擔任戲劇構作,在跟二高表演合作《蝴蝶島》的排練過程中,從山寨、土酷、Y2K等亞文化現象出發,進而延伸至千禧年鄉愁、身份正義和中華未來主義等話題。事實上,早在同當代藝術機構及展覽的合作中,通過與策展人的交流,二高表演就已經產生戲劇構作的意識。例如,受邀參加首屆泛東南亞三年展,經策展命題的觸動,二高表演增強了自身的「南方」地緣性認同,即便日後實體空間消失,仍以「南方舞館」的名義繼續「流動」。《蝴蝶島》由香港大館古蹟及藝術館委約創作,在前作《恭喜發財》的「鄉土」基礎上,加入了島嶼、海洋、遷徙等課題,並在其後巡演至博樂德藝術中心的《不止於人類》展覽,強調了蝴蝶的「去人類中心」視角。


組合嬲《嬲林匹克》於明當代美術館Niaolympics by Niao Collective at Ming Contemporary Art Museum(照片由孫曉星提供Photo provided by Sun Xiaoxing)


由於體制性的原因,戲劇構作無法被正式編入官方劇院的體系裡,但美術館的學術或策展部門卻在支持戲劇、舞蹈等表演藝術的發展中,間接承擔了部分戲劇構作的職能,同時促使許多現代舞者的「展演性」(performativity)轉向。比如明當代美術館在開館之初,就以實驗戲劇和表演為主打,還有上海當代藝術博物館的實驗性表演品牌「聚裂」,都為戲劇人、舞者和行為藝術家提供了相互熟絡的平台。在這些空間,組合嬲、小珂x子涵、老妖精、二高表演、文慧、紙老虎戲劇工作室等團體及個人紛紛展示了包括舞蹈劇場在內的跨領域作品。另外,明當代美術館表演項目策展人張淵在任期間,曾策劃了「非常身體」(2020)、「舞在亞洲」(2019)等項目,還參與策劃OCAT深圳館的當代表演文獻開放展「二〇20年:整個世界變成了劇場」,將分散和瞬息存在的獨立戲劇、前衛舞蹈、行為藝術等進行檔案化處理,其工作顯然具有戲劇構作的性質。


總體而言,舞蹈戲劇構作在中國(內地)擁有一種明顯區別於官方導向的政治性。它不僅助力現代舞者從體制內集體主義、民族主義的舞蹈系統中脫離,同時也避免現代舞的完全市場化,最為重要的是為具有當代性、前衛性的舞蹈作品建立與實驗戲劇節、當代藝術領域、思想界以及國際表演網路的連接。無論是通過策展、學術顧問,抑或戲劇構作的身份,其都旨在促成舞蹈和戲劇等傳統藝術的轉型,以進入當代劇場和表演藝術的場景中。


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孫曉星

 

戲劇編劇、導演,同時從事當代劇場與表演藝術研究及策劃,現任天津音樂學院現代音樂與戲劇學院副教授,上海戲劇學院博士研究生。



Why Mainland China Needs Dance Dramaturgy


Text: Sun Xiaoxing

Translator: Penny Zhou


First, let’s take a look at several important events which have taken place in China in recent memory, particularly the 70th anniversary of the People's Republic of China and the 2022 Winter Olympics. It’s easy to see that in such major national celebrations, the bodies of dancers are often turned into objects of expropriation. During the rehearsal stage, teachers and students at the Beijing Dance Academy are asked to prepare Chinese folk dance numbers as opposed to ballet or modern dance. With folk dance being the favoured genre of the government authorities, the folk dance department tends to hold considerably more sway in dance education institutions. Meanwhile, since modern dance—a genre characterised by its focus on personal expression—was first introduced to China in the 20th century, it has been largely regarded as a mere supplement to existing dance techniques, or worse, an extension of the cultural penetration of Western liberalism. As a result, a certain degree of "caution" has been used to prevent its excessive development in China.

 

However, modern dance happens to be the dance genre that has most in common with experimental theatre. In 1998, the Guangdong Modern Dance Company, at the time led by Yang Meiqi, hosted the 2nd edition of the Guangdong International Experimental Theatre Modern Arts Festival. The festival provided the opportunity for members of the Beijing-based Living Dance Studio and Paper Tiger Theatre Studio, as well as the Shanghai-based Collective Z (the predecessor of Niao Collective), to come together in the southern province of Guangdong, far from the centre of the system. Although at the time ‘dance dramaturgy’ wasn’t part of any job title in China, such work was already taking place under the radar within these independent groups. Artists with backgrounds in film, theatre or literature, such as Wu Wenguang, Tian Gebing and Zhang Xian, started to collaborate with dancers, thus giving birth to modern dance theatre in mainland China.


Dance theatre and dance dramaturgy have a complementary relationship. When dance creators wish to cross over into theatre, they bring in theatre scholars, playwrights and sometimes even directors to take on the role of dance dramaturg. The existence of such a position is arguably more meaningful than the actual work itself, as it signifies the establishment of an identity. On the one hand, the diversity and mixture of team members from various backgrounds results in works which push the boundaries. On the other hand, combining dance with theatre serves as a great survival strategy for modern dancers to expand their space and reach.

 

The theatricalisation of dance is first and foremost about the decentralisation of the dance or dancer's body—not dissimilar to the approach taken by postdramatic theatre towards traditional drama scripts. The fundamental purpose of this decentralisation is to give equal standing to all the theatrical elements: the body, the space, the visuals and the text. Dance dramaturgy fills the gap of non-dance language and therefore serves as a bridge for dancers to enter the realm of theatre. In addition, while dancers are generally used to presenting works through a personal and emotional lens, dance dramaturgy helps place unorganised emotions into a clear, structured historical and political context, thereby forming a tangible connection between the individual experience and the shared social zeitgeist.

 

The renowned Chinese theatre director Meng Jinghui is the founder and artistic director of a number of theatre festivals in China. In recent years, an increasing number of dance theatre productions have been featured in these events, raising criticism about there being too much ‘dance content’ in theatre festivals. In the world of fine art, dance performances have also been a frequent fixture at the opening and closing  of contemporary art exhibitions.

 

However, it’s worth noting that, against the backdrop of consumerism and youth culture, these days dance performances are often staged in tourist spots, art galleries and at fashion shows, in the forms of site-specific dance, installation dance and fashion dance. It’s a practice that essentially turns beautiful young bodies into a tool to attract eyeballs and drum up traffic for cultural, tourism and even real estate businesses.

 

Dramaturgy is more than a theatre practice, it represents a specific political and cultural positioning. In mainland China, dramaturgy was first adopted by grassroots, independent theatre and dance troupes, which signaled the self-awareness of these creators to distinguish their works from popular exhibits or promotional tools. In addition, for a long time dance has been treated somewhat as a competitive sport in China; as a result, it has gradually become alienated from its function as intellectual expression. Dance dramaturgy, as a kind of academic exercise, helps to support and promote a renewed dialogue between dance and innovative ideas.

 

For example, concepts such as post-humanism and ecologism have lately been brought into dance theatre, resulting in works such as L-square Performance's A Poem About the Unknown, The Three Bowls Co-op's Web Traffic, and Grasshead Performance Group's Mushroom—all produced through collaborations between young choreographers and dramaturgs.

 

Recently, I worked with Ergao Dance Production Group (EDPG) on its project Butterfly Island. Along with other members of the creative team, we wove a plethora of topics into the work, from subcultural phenomena such as shanzhai (knockoff/copycat), ‘too cool’ and Y2K, to millennial nostalgia, identity justice and Chinese Futurism.

 

二高表演《南方舞館》©️廣州美術學院大學城美術館Southern Dance House by EDPG © Art Museum of Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts(照片由孫曉星提供Photo provided by Sun Xiaoxing)


In fact, EDPG became interested in dramaturgy fairly early on—an interest that initially stemmed from its collaborations with various contemporary art institutions and exhibitions. For example, after participating in the inaugural Pan-Southeast Asia Triennial, EDPG was inspired by the event’s curatorial statement to deliberately strengthen its ‘southern’ identity. Even following the absence of a physical space, it continued to operate as a ‘Southern dance house’.

 

Commissioned by Tai Kwun, Butterfly Island builds on the ‘hometown’ theme of EDPG’s previous work, Kung Hei Fat Choy, while incorporating new thematic elements such as islands, ocean and migration. When the show was staged at the Blanc Art Space in Beijing as part of the More Than Human exhibition, it also emphasised the de-anthropocentric perspective of the butterflies.

 

Due to institutional constraints, dramaturgy is not formally incorporated into China’s official theatre system. However, the academic research or curatorial departments of museums sometimes serve certain functions of dramaturgy in supporting the development of drama, dance and other performing arts genres. It has also prompted the shift toward performativity for many modern dancers.

 

For example, when it was first established, the Ming Contemporary Art Museum had a strong focus on experimental theatre and performance, while at the Power Station of Art in Shanghai, experimental performance project ReActor created a platform for dramatists, dancers and performance artists to carry out exchange and collaboration.

 


當代表演文獻開放展「二〇20年:整個世界變成了劇場」海報Poster of 2020 Twenty Years towards A World Theatre, an exhibition of contemporary performing arts archives(照片由孫曉星提供Photo provided by Sun Xiaoxing)


These art institutions provide the space for an array of groups and individuals—from Niao Collective, Xiao Ke x Zi Han, aoao_ing and EDPG, to Wenhui and Paper Tiger Theatre Studio—to present their cross-disciplinary works, including works of dance theatre. In addition, during his tenure as curator of performance art projects at Ming Contemporary Art Museum, Zhang Yuan presented dance-related projects including Being Fragile (2020) and Dance in Asia (2019), and the co-curated 2020: Twenty Years Towards a World Theatre for OCAT Shenzhen. The curation of the exhibition, which featured a new archive of independent theatre, avant-garde dance and performance art projects that had not been brought together previously, clearly involved dramaturgy.


In general, dance dramaturgy in mainland China is notably different in its ideological leanings compared to the official approach to dance. It can help modern dancers break away from the collectivist and nationalistic system, while preventing the over-commercialisation of modern dance.

 

Most importantly, dance dramaturgy can establish a bridge between contemporary or avant-garde dance works with various experimental theatre festivals, the contemporary art world, academic circles, and international performing arts networks. Whether it is practised in the form of curation, academic consulting or dramaturgy, it is instrumental in advancing the transformation of traditional art forms such as dance and drama and their integration into the contemporary performing arts scene.

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Sun Xiaoxing

 

Sun Xiaoxing is a playwright and theatre director, as well as a researcher and curator of contemporary theatre and performing arts. He currently works as an associate professor at the School of Modern Music and Drama at the Tianjin Conservatory of Music, and is a doctoral candidate at the Shanghai Theatre Academy.

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