新鮮人2021_top banner 980x120 0722a.jpg

[中][ENG] 從疫情下的危機處理,到策劃新舞季節目——與三大旗艦舞團的藝術總監對談

從疫情下的危機處理,到策劃新舞季節目

——與三大旗艦舞團的藝術總監對談


文:陳瑋鑫


舞蹈員:劉奕詩在「盡演(芭蕾)藝術節」《六人五作》之《Handelwerk》/攝:Conrad Dy-Liacco(照片由香港芭蕾舞團提供)


過去一年,新冠疫情反復持續,幾乎所有舞蹈製作都難逃取消或者延期的命運,各大小舞團上上下下都忙著危機管理,嘗試以不同的行政手段去穩住舞迷,藝術上也因此難作突破;一年過去,所有人都明白疫情似乎沒可能在短期內結束,故此不同舞團在策劃來季節目時,都已做足幾手準備,以應對這個「新常態」,並矢志作出更多適時的藝術探索。


適逢本地各舞團的新舞季陸續展開,我們特意邀來本地三大旗艦舞團:香港芭蕾舞團(港芭)、香港舞蹈團(舞蹈團)及城市當代舞蹈團(CCDC)的藝術總監,來為我們分享去年的經驗之餘,也談談新舞季的一些展望。


疫情下的不同挑戰


回想去年舞團所面對最大的挑戰,港芭的藝術總監衛承天就立即提到「空間」的問題。由於港芭一直沿用的主要排練場地香港文化中心,早於去年疫情初次爆發時就已經關閉,舞團頓時無空間可用作上課及排練。為應對這個問題,港芭除著手將跑馬地辦公室內的其中兩個房間重新裝修,改裝成兩個小型排練室,供團員輪流分批、分房作舞蹈課及排練之用外,也曾按需要租用過坊間六、七間不同舞室以應付舞團的訓練需要。此外,為方便舞蹈員可以留在家中進行練習,以保持身體狀態,舞團亦早在去年二、三月期間、把大幅的舞蹈地膠剪成小塊,然後召客貨車送往全團40多位舞蹈員的住處,供他/她們在家使用。


雖然CCDC快將要在今年內完全遷離黃大仙,搬往大埔藝術中心新址,但至少目前為止,其舞蹈中心仍然如常運作,空間對於CCDC來說或者不成大問題。剛正式上任為CCDC藝術總監的伍宇烈指出,去年疫情影響最大的,是有一段長時間所有面授課堂必須停課,令舞者少了教班的收入,同時也大大影響了舞團從舞蹈課程中賺取的收入;而且舞蹈中心一向也是獨立舞者與小型製作的熱門排練場地,不過在疫情期間,場地就未能外借作排練,也令舞圈中人少了一個聚腳交流的地方。


香港舞蹈團藝術總監楊雲濤就提到,舞蹈團一向的運作模式都是早作計劃,去年最大的挑戰是多個製作都未能上演,打亂了計劃。同時也讓舞團上下意識到一向的計劃與製作流程不是理所當然,當一貫的工作模式失效時,就需要引進全新的思維,去應付不同變化。


重新反思舞蹈為何


縱使遇到場地關閉、演出要取消或延期,一時間大家都覺得難以接受及適應,不過楊表示這段日子反而令舞團上下多了溝通,而且更加團結。他直言過去大家往往埋首工作,少有空間及時間相互溝通,所以當製作暫緩,正好有機會多作交流,也有空間去審視自己。「訓練為排練,排練為演出,演出是為了見觀眾。這都是運作上的需要,但對個人而言,又是否理想?」楊提到眾團員最初要留在家,就算之後返團也要分開房間排練,皆表示很不習慣,但大家慢慢都明白,跳舞不只是為了工作、為了演出,而可以是一種鍛煉。


衛承天亦同意舞者們在未能接觸觀眾的情況下,需要調整動機。對他而言,練舞的目標不是要為下星期公演的作品準備,而是為了每天在排練室中鍛鍊身體,把跳舞這回事還原到更純粹,反思自己為甚麼要跳舞。尤其港芭團員來自世界各地,大都因疫情持續而未能放假回鄉,正正有一空間去反思一個人離鄉背井,來到香港這個地方,犧牲為何?藉以拾回跳舞的初心。然而,疫情與及香港整個社會的氣氛,亦無可避免影響到舞蹈員的身心狀態。衛表示,雖然一眾舞蹈員在排練室內仍然表現卓越,但看得出他們的情緒繃緊,明顯受到整個社會環境的氣氛影響。首席舞蹈員李嘉博選擇提早離團回到家鄉上海,也多少與此有關。


說到團員離團,伍宇烈就提到CCDC有多達五位團員,分別因為不同的個人原因而相繼離開了。他同意疫情期間的確有更多時間和空間去思考與傾談,審視為甚麼要跳舞,為甚麼要上舞台演出,因此不同人也自然會對舞蹈產生不同的看法。他支持各人有各自的追求,故也沒有刻意說服團員留下,並強調舞團的大門一直打開,最重要是令每一位合作伙伴,覺得現在所做的,乃是有意義之事。

《42.36.42》排練照片/攝:Lee Wai-leung(照片由城市當代舞蹈團提供)


新舞季的節目策略


作為CCDC的「新人」,伍宇烈在他首個領航的舞季,選擇先不去做自己編創的作品,而是讓中生代的編舞們去創作,並透過延長自己的蜜月期,去多認識CCDC這個大家庭中的每一個人,在互信下携手合作,看看能否累積到新的東西。至於在節目策劃上,就以A、B、C三個方案去構想,分別是A:在理想的情況下,推出三個主節目及作海外巡演;B:靈活應變,透過線上進行發佈,並完善舞蹈影像的拍攝;C:與不同人合作,以培育藝術家(artists building)為目標,嘗試與舞團上下不同成員,探索新的合作模式。


香港舞蹈團即將展開其40週年舞季,自2013年出任藝術總監的楊雲濤指其節目編排一如既往,很早就已經做好策劃,未有因應疫情而作大改動,但調整就一定有,尤其是牽涉到海外藝術家的節目。畢竟疫情不可預料,所以也不可能太過在意,他主要會提出一個願景,但更多的是要靠行政部門同事的配合,準備更多後備方案,工作計劃也要安排得更靈活。


衛承天也坦言在計劃來季節目時的確遇到不少困難,但他還是對前境保持樂觀。今年上半年,他就先為港芭策劃一些較容易移往網上演出的節目,萬一場地一再關閉也能盡速作出應變;下半年就以大型製作掛帥,希望藉此吸引到更多觀眾重回劇場。至於實驗性較強的節目,就會放在舞季較後期接續演出。


未來舞蹈新常態


談到在新常態下越趨普及的線上交流與影像發放,衛承天表示他也越來越習慣透過小小的屏幕去欣賞舞蹈,尤其樂見世界各地的藝術家都充滿創意,開拓網上媒介的不同可能,去跟觀眾保持關係。不過他認為舞蹈還是需要在劇場內體驗,讓舞者與觀眾直接交流的經驗實在不可能以影像拍攝去取代。


伍宇烈也在這段時間,與CCDC探索了很多影像跟舞蹈的互動,好像把原來要在舞台上呈現的舞作,找來不同的影像導演來進行拍攝。這些經驗讓他了解到,影像導演跟編舞在畫面呈現,以及看待空間的概念上非常南轅北轍。他希望未來可以搭起一道橋,製造機會去讓這兩類藝術家分享美學,好好學習、溝通及實踐,最終能夠彼此欣賞、彼此借鏡,否則所有舞作的拍攝最後永遠只有兩個版本:編舞的和影像導演的,而難以為舞蹈影像帶來新視角。


楊雲濤就直言並不喜歡在線上看演出,但對舞蹈以不同形式發表就保持開放性。無可否認,網上的演出可以突破地域空間限制,傳播得更快更廣,一個在劇場內的演出可能最多一場也只能有數千觀眾,但透過網絡就有機會接觸到全球幾百萬觀眾。所以即使他還在學習和反思網上演出這回事,但也強調我們今天一定要開放地去接受新事物。好像舞蹈團剛剛完成劇場演出的《青衣》,內地編舞因疫情影響未能親自來港排演,就只能靠網上會議平台Zoom去作遙距指導;首演當晚人不在劇場,而要用另一種方式去見證作品完成。


說到海外藝術家來訪,衛承天提到去年疫情剛起,沒有很多人願意為跨境工作而進行隔離,但隨著隔離檢疫14-21日變成全球出入境的新常態,越來越多自由身的藝術家,也願意去為海外的工作進行隔離,這對所有藝團及製作來說都是好消息。有來港芭參與製作的藝術家,去年十月就來港隔離;從海外來港的新入團舞者,同樣也經歷了隔離,這是新常態之下,沒有辦法中的辦法。而今年港芭更會首次利用Zoom,透過網上去遴選新舞者。


新舞季的觸目製作


最後,我們邀請了三位藝術總監,挑選並推薦其舞團來季不可錯過的一個製作。


衛承天先選來編舞巴蘭欽的經典舞作《珠寶》,他認為這齣首演於1967年的首部長篇抽象芭蕾舞作,絕對是現代主義芭蕾舞的代表作。而且三幕舞作各具特色,也能讓觀眾好好認識不同芭蕾風格。他還提到今次這個製作在規模上,可說是對港芭的一大挑戰,希望藉此推動團隊更進一步。


伍宇烈說他也非常期待《珠寶》的演出,同時也覺得黎海寧的經典舞作《九歌》,十分適合當下的香港舞蹈團演繹。說回CCDC,他就推介即將在四月上演的《42.36.42》。這個作品集合了三位代表不同世代的編舞:李思颺、莫嫣、黃振邦,CCDC為三位提供了一個安全及開心的環境,讓他們可以自在地去跟舞者們發展新作。


楊雲濤也覺得來季有很多作品都值得留意,但他反而想談談自己編舞的舞季開季作品《山水》。他認為舞蹈團過往曾有許多不同的藝術總監,帶領過舞團到不同方向,而現在他就希望能夠多引入自己的藝術理念。畢竟中國舞是一個很寬闊的概念,當中有很多值得探討的地方,所以他期望以中國山水畫作為題材,思考傳統文化,東方是甚麼?中國又是甚麼?大膽以舞蹈創作去實驗回應。



==

陳瑋鑫

資深藝評人、媒體及劇場製作人,近年主要從事表演藝術研究及教育工作。




From Crisis Management in the Pandemic, to Planning New Dance Season Programmes: A Conversation with the Artistic Directors of Hong Kong’s three flagship dance companies


Original text: William Chan

Translator: Tiffany Wong


Rehearsal of Shan Shui: An Ode to Nature / Photo: Dicky (Photo provided by Hong Kong Dance Company)


During the past year, the continuing pandemic inevitably led to almost all dance productions being cancelled or postponed. Dance companies of all sizes were busy with crisis management. They tried to maintain a relationship with the dance audience through other means than performance, but this made artistic breakthroughs difficult. In planning the coming season, different companies have prepared in various ways to cope with this "new normal" and are determined to make more timely plans and focus on artistic exploration.


As the new local dance seasons begin, we invited the artistic directors of the three flagship dance companies: Hong Kong Ballet (HKB), Hong Kong Dance Company (HKDC) and City Contemporary Dance Company (CCDC) to share their experiences from the past year and talk about the prospects for their new dance seasons.


Different challenges under the pandemic


Looking back at the biggest challenges faced by the company last year, HKB's Artistic Director Septime Webre immediately mentioned the issue of "space". As the Hong Kong Cultural Centre, the main rehearsal space used by HKB, was closed from early last year when the pandemic first broke out, the company was left with no space for classes and rehearsals. To tackle this problem, the company renovated two rooms in its Happy Valley office and converted them into two small rehearsal studios which company members could take turns in using for dance classes and rehearsals. They also rented six or seven different private dance studios to further meet the company's training needs. In order to make it easier for the dancers to practice and maintain their physical fitness at home, the company cut a large piece of dance flooring into small sections and distributed to the homes of over 40 dancers in February and March last year.


Although CCDC will soon move from Wong Tai Sin to a new location at the Tai Po Arts Centre this year, its dance centre is still operating as usual, at least for now, so space may not be a big problem for CCDC. The dance centre has always been a popular rehearsal venue for independent dancers and small-scale productions, but during the pandemic, the venue could not be lent out for rehearsals. The dance community thereby lost a place to gather and exchange ideas.


Hong Kong Dance Company’s Artistic Director Yang Yuntao says that the company is used to planning ahead, but the biggest challenge for the past year was that many productions could not be staged, so their plans were disrupted. It also made the company realize that the traditional planning and production process should not be taken for granted; when the usual mode of operation fails, it becomes necessary to introduce new ideas to cope with the different changes.


Rethinking “what is dance”


Even though everyone found it hard to accept and adapt to the closure of venues and the cancellation or postponement of performances, Yang said that this period had led to more communication and greater solidarity within the company. He noted that in the past, people were often so immersed in their work that they had little time to communicate with each other. When production was suspended, that gave them the opportunity to communicate and reflect upon themselves. “Training is for rehearsal, rehearsal is for performance, and performance is for connecting with the audience. It's all about operational needs, but is it ideal for the individual?” Yang mentioned that at first the company members had to stay at home and even when they returned to work, they had to rehearse in separate rooms. Although they complained that they were not used to this, gradually they came to understand that dance is not solely about working or performing, it is also about training.


Webre too agrees that the dancers have to adjust their goals when they cannot be on stage in front of the audience. For him, the goal of dance practice is not just to prepare for a public performance next week, but to train the body physically in the studio every day. The aim is therefore to return to the purest form of dancing and reflect on why we dance. In particular, since most members of HKB are from other parts of the world and were not able to go home during the pandemic, they had time to reflect upon why they had left their homes and moved to Hong Kong, what sacrifices did that entail? This reminded them of their original passion for dance. Nonetheless, the pandemic and the atmosphere in Hong Kong society as a whole had an inevitable impact on the dancers' physical and mental state. Although the dancers were still performing well in the studio, Webre noted that they were emotionally tense and clearly affected by the atmosphere surrounding them. For instance, these were among the reasons for principal dancer Li Jiabo’s decision to leave the company and return to his native Shanghai.


Talking about dancers leaving, CCDC’s artistic director, Yuri Ng, mentioned that some five members of the company had left for various personal reasons. He agreed that during the pandemic, there was more time and space to think and talk, examining why we dance and why we perform on stage and that it is natural for different people to have different views on dance. He supported the idea that each person had to follow their own path, so he made no deliberate attempt to convince members to stay. He emphasized that the company’s door is always open, and the most important thing is that each member of the team should feel that what they are doing is meaningful.

From right: Septime Webre (Artistic Director), Luis R. Torres (Ballet Master), turn(it)out festival: Ballet Classics for Children: Cinderella (Photo provided by Hong Kong Ballet)


Programming strategies for the new dance season


As a "newcomer" to CCDC, Ng chose not to include any of his own choreography in his first season, but to let the mid-career choreographers create work instead. Through extending this "honeymoon" period, he could get to know everyone in the CCDC family, build a working relationship with them based on mutual trust and see what new things could be added. As for the planning of the season programme, there were three options: A, B, and C. A: under ideal circumstances, to launch three major productions and tour overseas; B: to be flexible, show work online, and improve the filming of dance videos; C: to cooperate with different people, with the goal of nurturing artists (artists building), and seek to explore new ways of collaborating with different members of the company.


The Hong Kong Dance Company will soon start its 40th anniversary season. Yang, who has been artistic director since 2013, said that their programmes had been planned well in advance, and no major changes had been made in response to the pandemic, even if adjustments might have to be made, especially for productions involving overseas artists. Given the unpredictable nature of the pandemic, it was pointless to focus on it too much. His main role was to put forward his vision, but it was important to rely on the cooperation of colleagues in the administration department to prepare more backup plans and arrange work plans more flexibly.


Webre also admitted that he had encountered many difficulties in planning the coming season, but he remained optimistic about the future. In the first half of the year, he had planned some shows for HKB that could be easily moved to the internet, so that he could respond quickly in case the venues were closed again; in the second half of the year, he was proposing large-scale productions, hoping to attract larger audiences back to the theatre. As for more experimental programmes, they would be scheduled in the later part of the season.


The new normal of dance in the future


In terms of online communication and video distribution, which are becoming more and more popular under the new normal, Webre said that he had got used to enjoying dance on a small screen, and was especially happy to see artists from all over the world being creative and exploring the different possibilities of online media to maintain a relationship with the audience. However, he believed that dance still had to be experienced live in the theatre, and that the direct communication between dancers and audiences could not be replaced by video.


During this time, Ng explored with CCDC the interaction between video and dance, as if the original dance piece was to be presented on stage and a video director was brought in from outside to shoot it. These experiences have taught him that there is a big difference between video directing and on stage choreography in terms of how the work is presented and how the concept of space is viewed. He hoped that a bridge can be built in the future to create opportunities for these two types of artists, choreographers and video directors, to share aesthetics, learn, communicate and practice, so that they can eventually appreciate each other and draw from each other. Otherwise all dance productions will always end up with two different versions: the choreographer's and the video director's, and it will be difficult to bring new perspectives to dance video.


Yang said frankly that he didn’t like watching performances online, but he is open to different forms of dance expression. There is no denying that online performances can break through geographical and spatial limitations and spread faster and more widely. A performance in the theatre may only reach a few thousand spectators at most, but the internet offers the opportunity to reach millions of people worldwide. So even though he is still learning and reflecting on online performances, he emphasizes that we must be open to new things today. For example, the choreographer, who is from mainland China, was unable to come to Hong Kong for the rehearsals of the company's recent live production of The Moon Opera due to the pandemic. Instead, she had to rely on Zoom to provide remote coaching. She was not in the theatre on the opening night and had to witness the completion of the work in another way.


When it comes to overseas guest artists, Webre mentioned that last year, when the pandemic first started, not many people were willing to undergo quarantine to take up work abroad. However, with quarantine periods of 14 – 21 days becoming the new norm for global travel, more and more freelance artists are willing to undergo this in order to work abroad. Some artists who came to Hong Kong last October to work on productions went through quarantine; new dancers hired from overseas have also done so. This year, for the first time, HKB will use Zoom to audition new dancers online.


A new season of eye-catching productions