[中][ENG] 以視覺語言再造身體──專訪服裝設計師賴妙芝與何珮姍

Using visual language to enhance the dancer’s body– An interview with Costume Designers Yoki Lai and Cindy Ho


文:黃寶儀


對服裝設計師而言,服裝在舞蹈作品中扮演甚麼角色?資深服裝設計師賴妙芝與何珮姍不約而同指出,服裝為舞者身體的延伸,同時亦為編舞抽象意念的具象化身。服裝看似是演出的細枝末節,但卻是構成舞作整體性的重要一環。

《六人五作》five(by)six/照片由賴妙芝提供 Photo provided by Yoki Lai


環環相扣的紐帶

舞蹈純然依靠舞者身體表意,舞蹈無法以口言說之處,服裝造型能作無言的說明。「設計師與舞者關係密切。他們會提出自己的需要,也會提議如何讓服裝更有效地表意。」賴妙芝點出服裝的功能在於協助舞者述說。她以正在參與製作的一個演出為例,在該作中表演者需借助服裝放大拍打肉身的聲音。經反覆試驗以及聽取舞者反饋後,她最終選用質料輕薄、不礙舞者行動的EVA(ethylene-vinyl acetate,具有彈性的膠膜)泡棉片作服裝底層。何珮姍亦認同設計師的工作為與人情感交流。她續說:「舞者在台上是寂寞的,服裝最能讓演出者在台上感到安心。」在其看來,設計師最重要的任務是幫角色亮相,亮相並不只是外相,而是讓服裝內化為舞者的一部分。


除了關顧舞者需要外,設計師亦要兼顧舞台的整體性。舞台演出為團隊合作,各舞台元素彼此相連,方能創造出一部高度協調的作品。何珮姍表示設計服裝需考慮「服裝製造的噪音能否為聲音設計師所用。若不能用,便要重選布料。」賴妙芝便曾因舞衣垂吊的珠片,在舞者跳動時發出的碰撞聲,影響到聲音設計,而不得不將已完成的設計束之高閣。一套讓人信服的服裝,只佔舞台的一小點,卻是設計師與創作團隊磨合後的心血之作。


正因服裝設計要平衡各方所需,因此兼備台前與幕後的視點,能增加設計師對舞台整體性的把握。「表演者要適應服裝、台位及燈光,未必太在意設計細節,反而更關心如何利用服裝呈現角色。而服裝設計師則以作品的整體畫面為重。」賴妙芝談及學習戲曲的經歷,使其能感受表演者的心態,從而更明白台面上的需要。表演藝術的訓練不但能拓寬設計師的視角,亦能增加其對表演藝術的感受性。何珮姍指芭蕾舞的訓練,深化了其對舞蹈的理解,而她參與戲劇製作的經驗更有助其從構作的角度切入作品,與編舞作深入討論。她提及《茫然先生》由桑吉加編舞的製作的製作:「在一個監控社會裡,如果所有人都是市民,畫面上會很沉悶,亦無助於說故事。」在消化編舞的創作意念後,她提議用服裝呈現階級分野,如:以西裝打扮凸顯高權力者的身分,此一建議終獲採納。設計師要做到面面俱到並非朝夕之事,而是歷經訓練與浸淫。


視限制為起點

每個舞種對服裝均有基本要求,設計師需在既定框架下力臻完美。賴妙芝以芭蕾舞為例,此舞種對舞鞋與服裝整體性要求嚴謹,故在設計時需著重細節。比如:足尖鞋與舞襪的色彩、圖案要配合,有時更需以漸變色營造服裝的一致性。而何珮姍則以中國水袖舞為例,道出服裝與動作編排的關係:「水袖舞動時,在空間飄盪的時長經過計算。」為實現編舞設計的動作效果,其在製作服裝時,會考慮到布料的材質、重量並反覆試驗,以達到理想的舞台效果。台上華麗夢幻的服裝,其製作過程並不浪漫,而是苦心經營的成果。


除考慮舞種特性外,服裝設計亦要符合編舞主題。在詮釋經典舞作時,若編舞另辟蹊徑,設計師也需發揮創意,以達到編舞要求。2011年,賴妙芝為伍宇烈和江上悠新編的芭蕾舞作《糊塗爆竹賀新年》製作服飾。該作以《胡桃夾子》作為藍本,以六、七十年代的香港新年為背景,並引入不少當年香港電影的橋段。賴妙芝參考該年代的明星造型,通過角色外型展現年代氛圍。而何珮姍恰巧為去年現代舞版《甩隙咔》設計服裝,編舞伍宇烈提出以升級再造的方式製作服裝,呈現Uncle D老年貧困的故事。何珮姍並未視其要求為限制,反而富有創意地改造二手衣服來凸顯角色特點。由熱鬧的新年場景到孤獨潦倒的晚年追憶,兩位設計師在兩版舞作中,見證了編舞思考的變化。

《糊塗爆竹賀新年》Firecracker/照片由賴妙芝提供 Photo provided by Yoki Lai


設計服裝不只是在限制中創造可能,同時具有實驗性。即使是規範嚴謹的芭蕾舞衣,亦能在設計師的巧思下耳目一新。香港芭蕾舞團(港芭)《六人五作》的一組舞衣大膽地採用了牛仔布製作。賴妙芝解釋:「中世紀服裝有破洞,而牛仔布破洞、披口的效果,能現代化地呈現中世紀服裝的特點。」其以現代選材再現舊時代特點,正好與編舞追求現代時尚的想法不謀而合,此設計終成定案。現代舞相對芭蕾舞更具試驗空間,何珮姍便曾以三維物料製作舞衣,例如:以棉花製成膿瘡綁在舞者身上,使其身體異化;又刻意讓舞者反穿服裝,試圖妨礙其舞動,以探索新穎的肢體語彙。服裝實驗需要設計師與舞者相互信任、配合,舞者將身體託付予設計師,而設計師則反覆思量、修改,以製作出能與舞者融為一體的第二層皮膚。


耀眼燈光下的陰影

本地設計師以有限的資源妙手生花,然而製衣業的餘暉將盡,採購布料成了一大難題。「香港已非布料入口港,現時很少入口外國布料。以往各地布料齊集香港,連外國設計師也會專程到本港採購。」何珮姍坦言昔日盛況不再,連布料集中地深水埗亦沒落。縱然市面布料選擇愈發貧乏,但打印布料的興起改善了設計師的困境。賴妙芝指該技術能在布料上,打印出理想的圖案與色彩。她舉莉茲.凡達爾為港芭《愛麗絲夢遊仙境》設計的服裝為例:「她當時設計的服裝大多在加拿大打印,再運到香港縫製成舞衣。」此技術在外國相當流行,但香港仍在嘗試階段。由於本港缺乏打印布料的專門店,因此網購便成了另一出路。賴妙芝讚賞外國網站對布料的描述細緻,並指網購布料製衣在外國劇場界非常普遍。縱然本地製衣業衰落,但新興技術的發展,無疑為本地設計師帶來曙光。


採購布料的困難可透過科技克服,但服裝作品的保存與活化卻受限於土地問題而苦無良策。台上亮麗的服裝在落幕後,大多得不到妥善保管,甚或用完即棄。二人指除設計圖外,相片為唯一記錄自己心血的方式。可惜,服裝造型照僅為存倉紀錄之用,拍攝效果往往並不理想。何珮姍直言:「照片多在後台拍攝,背景比較雜亂,不能拍出服裝的細節。」而劇照又甚少專注舞台美術的呈現,故其只能自資與其他舞美設計師合聘攝影師,為作品留影。賴妙芝亦有感作品存檔不足:「香港沒有保存服裝的理念。服裝保存只是為了重演,而非因其美學價值。」雖然規模較大的藝團已盡力保存舞衣,作重演或升級再造之用,但造衣者的匠心之作往往因空間不足而無一席之地。


入行逾十載,賴妙芝與何珮姍見證了本地布業衰退以及科技化的趨勢。即使面對種種挑戰,業內的設計師仍以創意突破限制。她們盼望這群匠人的付出能在舞台燈火熄滅後,轉而以劇場服裝專展的形式,重回大眾視線,並得到應有的欣賞與尊重。


 

Using visual language to enhance the dancer’s body– An interview with costume designers Yoki Lai and Cindy Ho


Text: Bowie Wong

Translated by: Stella Tsang


What role should costumes play in a dance performance? To veteran costume designers Yoki Lai Miu-chi and Cindy Ho Pui-shan, a costume is not only an extension of the dancer's body, but also a reflection of the abstract concepts implied in the choreography. Seemingly insignificant, it is in fact an essential component to complete the dance performance.


The bond between dancers and costumes

While dancers use their bodies to tell a story, some messages are hard to express simply through movement - that’s when costumes can add something extra to shed more light. “Costume designers and dancers work together closely. Dancers will tell us their needs and will also give advice on the design so that the clothes can better convey the messages,” Lai points out, saying that costumes can help dancers to tell the story. She mentions a project she is currently taking part in, which requires performers to slap their bodies to create sounds with the help of their costumes. After trying several different materials and listening to the dancers’ feedback, she eventually selected EVA foam (ethylene-vinyl acetate, a highly elastic, rubber-like material) which has a light texture and does not affect the dancers’ movement, as the base layer fabric. Ho agrees that her work involves emotional exchange with dancers. “Dancers often feel lonely on stage, but the clothes they wear can accompany them and reassure them,” she says. She believes the key role of a costume designer is to help the character played by the dancer come to life. It is not just a question of appearance, but of making the costume bond with the dancer so they become as one.

Besides taking dancers’ needs into account, another concern for costume designers is whether the outfits are consistent with the production. A good, balanced performance relies on teamwork, and every component of the production matters. “If the sound made by a costume is not accepted by the sound designer, the fabric has to be changed,” Ho says. Lai recalls one costume she designed that had to be scrapped, as its dangling spangles created an unsuittable rattling sound when the dancer was moving. A convincing costume may seem to play a minor role on the stage, but in fact it demands a lot of thought from both the designer and the production team.

《茫然先生》Mr Blank/攝 Photo: Carmen So(照片由何珮姍提供 Photo provided by Cindy Ho)


If costume designers can understand the perspectives from both the front of the stage and backsage and strike a balance between the two, that will give them a better grasp of the needs of the production as a whole. “Performers have to deal with costumes, stage positions and lighting. Rather than focusing on design details, they are concerned about how outfits can help them to present the characters, whereas costume designers value the overall visual presentation of the production,” Lai says. She mentions that she used to study Chinese Opera, and finds that experience enables her both to empathise with the performers and to understand the needs of the production as a whole. Performing arts training not only broadens a designer’s horizons, but also allows him or her a deeper appreciation on an artistic level. Ho says her ballet training enables her to dig deeper into dance while her past experience with theatre production allows her to look at a piece from a dramaturg’s perspective, and thus have a more in-depth discussion with the choreographer. She mentions the production of Sang Jijia’s Mr Blank. “The work is set in a surveillance society. If all the characters are shown as ordinary citizens, the visuals would be rather dull and would not help to tell the story.” After Ho had absorbed the choreographer’s ideas, she suggested using different outfits to distinguish the various social ranks of the characters (for example, a suit would represent someone from the ruling class) a suggestion which was adopted. Training and immersion are essential for a costume designer to make an all-round contribution, it doesn’t happen overnight. Seeing limitations as a starting point As each type of dance has its own specific requirements for costumes, so designers must strive to seek perfection within an established framework. Lai notes that ballet has strict requirements on footwear and costumes, so designers have to pay a lot of attention to detail. For example, the colours and patterns of the pointe shoes should match the tights, so sometimes designers will use gradient colour to create that consistency. Ho uses the traditional ‘water sleeves’ in Chinese dance to explain the association between a costume and the choreography. “You have to time how long the sleeves float in the air when they are waved by the dancer.” When making a costume, Ho pays attention to the texture and weight of the fabric, and makes repeated tests to achieve the desired stage effect. Costumes may look glamorous on stage, but making them demands a lot of painstaking effort.


In addition to the characteristics of the dance, costume design must accord with the theme of the work. If the choreographer takes a different approach to interpreting a classic, the designer has to be creative and respond to his or her requirements. In 2011, Lai made costumes for Firecracker, a ballet with new choreography by Yuri Ng and Yuh Egami. The work was based on The Nutcracker, but was set in Hong Kong at Lunar New Year during the 1960s and 1970s, and paid homage to old Hong Kong films. In designing for the characters, Lai took reference from the look of the celebrities in that period in order to evoke a nostalgic atmosphere. Ho happened to design costumes for last year’s Luck-quacka, a contemporary dance version of The Nutcracker also by Yuri Ng. This time Ng asked for the costumes to be made using upcycled materials to show the poverty of the work’s protagonist, Uncle D, in his old age. Ho did not regard Ng’s request as a limitation, but creatively transformed secondhand clothes to highlight the character's situation. So each designer experienced working on a different approach to the same story by the same choreographer.


Designing costumes is not just about converting limitations into possibilities, but being willing to experiment. Even something as standardised as ballet costumes can be refreshed by the designer's ingenuity. For example, Hong Kong Ballet’s five(by)six featured a bold use of denim for the costumes. "Medieval costumes often have ripped holes. The torn and frayed denim texture was a modern take on the characteristics of medieval clothing,” Lai explains. The use of modern textiles in recreating the mood and atmosphere of medieval times was in line with the choreographer's pursuit of modern fashion, and the idea was given the green light. Compared to ballet, contemporary dance can be more daring. Ho has used three-dimensional textiles to make dance outfits. For example she used cotton to create fake abscesses which were tied to the dancers’ bodies to represent body mutation. Another time she asked the dancers to wear their clothes back to front as an attempt to interfere with their dancing, so as to explore novel forms of body language. These experiments in costume require mutual trust and collaboration between the designer and the dancer. The dancers allow the designer to use their bodies as a canvas, while the latter drills into the design and repeatedly modifies it to create a second skin for the body.

《茫然先生》Mr Blank/攝 Photo: Carmen So(照片由何珮姍提供 Photo provided by Cindy Ho)


Shadows cast by the decline of the local textile industry

Local designers strive to spin straw into gold with limited resources, as the shrinking and fading of Hong Kong's textile industry has created major problems in purchasing fabric. “Hong Kong is no longer an import port for fabrics, and overseas fabrics are rarely imported now. But in the past, fabrics from all over the world were gathered in Hong Kong, and even foreign designers would come all the way here to purchase," Ho says. She admits that this sector has lost its prosperity, and is in decline even in Sham Shui Po, a district famous for selling fabrics. With less choice of fabrics available on the market, the emergence of digital textile printing has become a solution. Lai points out that this method can be used to print specific patterns and colours on fabrics and mentions the costumes designed by Liz Vandal for Hong Kong Ballet’s ALICE (in wonderland) as an example. “Most of the fabrics were printed in Canada and then shipped to Hong Kong, before being made up into dance costumes." This trend is quite common abroad, but has just started in Hong Kong. As there are not many places that provide a digital textile printing service here, online purchasing offers a way out. Lai praises the detailed descriptions of fabrics on foreign websites, and points out that shopping for fabrics online is a common practice overseas. In view of the decline of the local garment industry, these emerging technologies can be a real help to local designers.


While the difficulty of buying fabrics may be overcome through technology, the preservation and renewal of costumes are limited by the shortage of space, and there seems to be no satisfactory solution. As stunning as the costumes may seem on stage, when the curtain falls, often they are not kept properly or may even be thrown away. The only way for the two designers to keep a record of their creations apart from the design drawings, are photos . Unfortunately, the photos are usually taken merely for storage purposes and the results are not ideal. “The photos are mostly taken backstage, the background is always messy, and the details of the costumes are not captured," Ho says bluntly. What is more, photos rarely focus on the stage presentation. As a result, she and other designers have to use their own money to hire photographers to take additional pictures. Lai agrees that the idea of preserving costumes is not usual in Hong Kong. “Costume preservation is not popular here. Mostly the outfits are kept for re-runs, rather than for their aesthetic value." Although some larger arts groups might preserve dance costumes for re-runs or upcycling, often the designers’ creations end up being discarded due to the lack of storage space.


After working in the field for more than a decade, Lai and Ho have witnessed the decline of the local textile industry and the emergence of new technology. They have drawn on their creativity as costume designers to overcome obstacles and convert limitations into possibilities. Both hope that in the future there will be costume exhibitions which will enable their efforts and those of their colleagues to be recognised and appreciated by the public even after the curtain has fallen.



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黃寶儀

藝評人。熱愛文學、舞蹈及戲劇。評論文章曾刊於《明報》、《三角志》及《上海藝術評論》等文化刊物。

Bowie Wong

Bowie Wong is an art critic and a fan of literature, dance and theatre. She has written commentaries for a number of art publications, including Ming Pao, Delta Zhi and Shanghai Art Review.