新鮮人2021_top banner 980x120 0722a.jpg

[中][ENG] 疫後一年:與中小型舞團談網上演出的愛與恨

疫後一年:與中小型舞團談網上演出的愛與恨


文:尉瑋


《球賽》/攝 :Cheung Chiwai(照片由多空間提供)


疫情之下,全球網上演出呈井噴之勢。賽博空間是否會成為新的演出「現場」仍待商榷,但對於本地的中小型舞團而言,過去一年所體驗到的,是對節目數碼化的「又愛又恨」。愛的是,它在劇院關閉、演藝市場停擺低迷時提供一條可行的路徑;恨的是,它迥異於劇場的創作邏輯,更帶來無窮無盡的side effects(副作用)。


在疫情即將成為新常態的當下,中小型舞團如何看待過去一年的經驗,又如何想像未來的劇場?我們請來數位舞團主理人一起聊一聊。


數碼化是把雙面刃


疫情之下,現場演出受限,不少藝團紛紛轉戰網上。表演藝術作品的數碼化或會成為當下或未來後疫情時代的新常態。


「新約(新約舞流)都有利用政府給的一些支持性基金去邀請一些獨立藝術家,做了一些dance video(舞蹈錄像),是與大家一起在這個難關中去探索很多未知的領域。」新約舞流核心成員郭曉靈認為,有危就有機,籌備網上演出或許是應對疫情的權宜之舉,卻也刺激出新的思考。「例如讓我們探索digital(數碼化)和舞蹈與身體的關係——它對創作而言是衝擊還是增進交流?(劇院不停開開關關)在這個危機裡我們拿到的一個益處是,讓大家在一個混沌的時間中,很努力地去變通和去梳理。有時去到一個程度是仿似時間都不存在了,大家好像可以隨時就可以開會,隨時就下決定讓藝術家來試。時間拉到一個地步,我們好像步入一個科技的時間觀念中了。但另外一方面也要問,這種迅速的決策、快速的應變和創作本身有沒有背道而馳呢?反而讓我們反思,為甚麼我們享受創作的那些點滴,那些醞釀,那種時間與生活的體驗……這所有的,都在過去這一年間不停衝擊著我們自己。」


然而對於資源有限的中小型舞團來說,作品數碼化所帶來的挑戰是多方面的。首先是拍攝,實體演出轉online(線上)遠不是架一部攝影機將演出紀錄這麼簡單,燈光、場地、運鏡、剪輯……是與編創舞台作品截然不同的創作邏輯,對舞團與編舞來說無異於「從頭學起」,亟需技術支持。而若是雇用專業的影像創作和拍攝團隊來處理,除去創作過程繁複,要與影像方磨合溝通,以確保作品呈現符合創作原意外,製作費亦不便宜,並非每個藝團都能負擔。


多空間的外展及教育總監嚴明然就表示,當時需按照合約將作品《球賽》拍攝為影像版,「搞到很辛苦」。因為原本的演出是現場演出,並非為了錄影而設計,對編舞、導演、舞者、音樂的整個概念的要求都不同。加上最後因為場地臨時須關閉,所有人被逼要迅速撤離劇場,時間緊迫下仍要完成拍攝更是讓整個過程無比艱難。


而東邊舞蹈團藝術總監余仁華就寧願直接選擇推遲做現場演出,也不想改為線上演出。「舞蹈錄像與劇場演出不是同一樣東西。」他說,「而且現在網上已經有很多免費資源可以看,是否我們還要跟這個趨勢走呢?我們自己會覺得還是做現場,不轉線上。一方面(轉線上)音樂版權需要給很多錢,除非你去找一個作曲家,但也是要錢,這方面就會限制了很多,然後拍攝團隊也會很貴。我們覺得還是寧願推遲做現場。劇院關閉時,大家可以休息一下、再去思考自己的作品。不同時間面對不同環境,會有不同的方式去生活。我覺得最重要的是放鬆一點,去思考。」


網絡營銷新課題


其次,網上演出如何進行推廣營銷,細緻到影片放映需要選擇甚麼平台,如何投放資源進行宣傳,節目如何定價等等,對藝團來說都是新課題。


綽舞場藝術總監麥卓鴻就指出,政府鼓勵將作品數碼化,並非不可行,但就其觀察,香港藝團並沒有足夠的資源投放到網絡營銷上。「例如我怎麼去下廣告,怎麼用一個專業的方法去瞭解平台的特性,怎麼投放廣告到我的目標人群而不是浪費錢去到不同的大眾。香港這方面發展比較少。到底我們要用甚麼方法來吸引更多的人來關注當代舞和現代舞呢?我們是否要停下我們的創作工作,專注在網絡營銷上呢?未必的,但是很多矛盾正在漸漸出現。」


新約舞流的舞團經理林倩怡則認為,製作方與觀眾方對作品的期待存在落差,也為舞團在網絡推廣中尋找定位帶來困難。「在宣傳上,我們當時正逢疫情剛開始的時候,不少外國劇院都開放了很多免費的節目,當他們那麼大型的機構都開放免費節目給觀眾的時候,大家會質疑你們為甚麽還要收錢呢。」她無奈地說,「但是大家沒有想過,作為小團,做製作已經不容易,如果請來團隊拍攝,其實成本比我們做現場演出還要貴很多。所以當大家覺得網上的東西要免費,而我們卻是投入了這麼多成本去做的時候,我們自己的心情都很矛盾。一方面想要多些人看到,一方面又要顧及在如此艱難情況下不能虧損太多。當時也不知道疫情會維持多久,於是那個演出只能收比較貼近現場演出的票價,最後的售票的確不理想。」在她看來,未來業界需要一起努力帶出訊息,扭轉觀眾的觀念,「不是東西放到網上平台就要免費」。創作人與觀眾間的理解落差需要拉近,未來的溝通才有可能。


除了定價難題,她亦指出,經過去年,網絡推廣的平台亦需要重新評估及探索。「我們平時用開的平台或渠道正在慢慢流失客戶。比如我們以前很依賴的Facebook和Instagram,很多人流失了,繼續在用的人很多並非我們的目標受眾。比如年輕人、中學生等,都不是很用Facebook了。當我們的演出轉向digital(數碼化),要適應拍攝和創作的不同的同時,我們也要適應marketing(行銷)環境的轉變。」如何在舊的渠道保留對目標觀眾的吸引力,並開拓新的平台來吸引年輕觀眾,林倩怡直言去年一直在摸索,「很難!」她笑,「今日可能出來一個MeWe,明天又出來一個Clubhouse,平台分散,人流也分散,如何在有限的資源中決定投放在哪個平台呢?對我們來說有困難,要慢慢學習。」


基於不同媒介進行創作


然而對於藝團與藝術家而言,在洶湧的網上演出大潮中,最大的衝擊仍來自影像作品與劇場演出在創作理念上的拉鋸。策劃未來作品時,他們繞不開的問題是:表演藝術的本質是甚麼?未來的劇場又是甚麼樣子?


對於麥卓鴻而言,將原有的劇場演出變成線上版,幾乎是個偽命題。因為兩種不同媒介,呈現出來的不可能是同一個作品。「將劇場演出再digital(數碼化),讓我們去做是有些弄巧成拙的。我們擅長的是劇場,讓我們再用你所想像的電影的模式去呈現出來,其實不work(可行)。這不僅對藝術家和藝團不公平,對觀眾也不公平。觀眾在劇場中有自己選擇的角度,有特別喜歡觀看的藝術家,但是鏡頭一旦出現,只會提供一種想像、角度、分鏡,這和表演藝術是很不同。表演藝術是每個人可以有自己的想法、自己的故事。對編舞來說不公平是他想提供一個空間,但是現在這個空間卻被框死了。舞台上用燈光和音樂做到的magic(魔力)和用鏡頭呈現的magic(魔力)是完全不同的。」他並非排斥以影片方式創作作品,而是認為應基於不同媒介本身來創作。他表示寧願政府支持、提供更多純粹數碼作品的創作計劃,而非硬要將現有作品拍攝成線上版。例如他正在策劃一部舞蹈電影,從分鏡到動作設計到景觀,完全用鏡頭邏輯來表達,而非硬要將一個舞台作品「拗」進鏡頭中。


拉闊場地的可能性


如果劇場與表演藝術建基於拉近或者維繫人與人之間的聯繫,網上版演出其實反而製造了距離,這是否可算是某種程度的「背道而馳」?而在各種防疫措施、限聚令、入座率的限制下,藝術家在劇場中的創作也似乎越來越受限。未來的劇場將以甚麼形式存在呢?


「現在有個危機是的確大家越來越依賴digital(數碼化)。」郭曉靈說,「我們不能讓政府覺得:疫情下那就轉digital(數碼化)嘛,很簡單。說真的,表演藝術是需要屬於劇場的,它有它獨特的語言。我不覺得我們業界要維持生存就只能走向digital(數碼化),其實也是沒可能的,因為那是完全另外一個領域。我們要讓政府或者觀眾瞭解到,的確,時代來到這裡,科技延伸至此,但劇場同樣可以共同存在。我們需要提醒政府,怎麼去做一個措施,讓劇場可以正常運作。」


嚴明然則認為,多年來,藝術家在劇場中的創作和表演,限制越來越多。疫情之下,既然藝術家與藝團已不斷改變,那劇場的規則與定義是否也需要隨著改變?「甚至我們也許未必需要一定要在劇場中,上個月我就帶學生去了戶外。疫情之下,政策隨時改變,我們是否也需要考慮其他的空間?」


事實上,香港表演場地的單一早已廣受詬病,過分依賴政府場地的弊端在疫情之下更加暴露無疑。一旦政府場地關停,藝團便無法演出,就連排練也可能找不到地方。此時反而有機會讓藝團嘗試發掘坊間其他私人或商業空間,擴展未來演出的可能。早前,新約舞流本應前往挪威參加國際舞蹈節 CODA Oslo International Dance Festival的《Maze 3.0》,因疫情令行程受阻,所以改為以網上直播的方式演出,並找到南豐紗廠作為表演場地,而這獨特的空間就為作品賦上了新意。


「外面的各種空間,商業的也好,都可以去拉闊可能性,成為一個表演的空間。」郭曉靈說,「現在的時代是這樣,疫情如此,我們已經回不到過去。那場地的可能性是否可以被拉闊,可以更有彈性,有更多可行性?而不是面對疫情,只能以藝術家轉戰網上來解決。最終,我們仍要回歸表演藝術的語言,舞蹈是屬於彼此當下接觸的一個旅程,我們不能忘記劇場的現場經歷,就在此時、此地、當下。」



==

尉瑋

文化記者,愛舞之人。




A Year in the Pandemic: Interviewing Small and Medium-sized Dance Groups – The Double-edged Sword of Online Performances


Original text: Wei Wei

Translator: Chermaine Lee


Shooting Maze / Photo: Maurice Lai (Photo provided by Passoverdance)


Online performances have proliferated during the global pandemic. While it remains to be seen whether cyberspace will become the new venue for ‘live’ performances, over the past year small and medium-sized local dance groups have developed a love-hate relationship with these digitalized programmes. While they are glad that these provide a viable way for artists to perform when theatres and venues are forced to shut, they cannot help worrying about the ongoing side effects and the immense differences in creative logic from working in the theatre.


When the pandemic is set to become the ‘new normal’, how should small and medium-sized dance groups review the experience of the past year, and plan the theatre’s future? We invited members of various different dance groups to share their insights.


Digitalization - a double-edged sword


The pandemic has hampered live performances immensely, prompting art groups to put their shows online. Digitalizing art performances may well become the norm not just during but also after the pandemic.


“With financial aid from the government, Passoverdance invited several independent artists to make dance videos, seeking to explore unknown areas in the current challenging situation,” says Elaine Kwok, a core member of Passoverdance.


Difficulties breed opportunities: organizing online shows might be a temporary measure for the pandemic, but it also inspires new thoughts, she adds.


“For instance, when we explore the relationship between digitalization, dance and our bodies, we can think about whether it impacts creativity or enhances the performance. A major benefit from this struggle [the constant opening and closing of theatres] is that we have had to work hard to stay flexible and keep reviewing our decisions.


“We’ve got to a point where the concept of ‘time’ doesn’t even exist, as we can have meetings whenever we want to, and allow artists to try things any time they like. Time is stretched to such an extent that it’s become elusive in this technological era,” she says.


“On the other hand, however, we need to ask whether such rapid decision-making and rapid responses are actually contrary to creativity. We need to reflect on the moments of preparation, being able to give ideas a chance to brew, the time and life experience that go into the creative process. These thoughts have constantly been on our minds in the past year.”


For small and medium-sized dance groups with limited resources, digitalizing their work presents a number of challenges. The first is filming: it takes more than recording a performance with a camera to turn their work into online work, an impeccable combination of lighting, venue, angle transition and editing is needed… All radically different from the creative logic of a theatre performance.


To these dance groups, this means nothing less than learning from scratch, and they have a huge need for technical support. If they hire professional video production and filming teams to handle this, the process will become quite complex, as it takes so much compromise and communication with the production crew to ensure an accurate presentation of the work. It also makes the cost of production shoot up, which not all art groups can afford.


Yim Ming-yin, Outreach and Education Director at Y-Space, says it was “a tough experience” to fulfil their contract and transform theatre production Matches into a video version. Since it was supposed to be a live performance in the theatre, instead of tailor-made for film, the requirements for choreography, direction, dance and music changed completely. To make things worse, the show was suspended when the venue was shut at short notice, so the team were grasping at straws to complete the video production in a limited time.


Jacky Yu, Artistic Director of the E-Side Dance Company, prefers to postpone live performances rather than digitalize them.


“Dance videos and theatre performances are not the same,” he says. “There are many free shows available online nowadays. Should we follow suit? We decided that we would insist on performing live instead of going online. [If we do shows online] It costs a lot to pay for music royalties. Even if you hire your own composer there’s still a cost, so this brings a lot of limitations. Hiring a film crew is also quite expensive.”


“We’d rather postpone our live shows. We can take a break while theatres are shut and use the time to review our work. Different time, different environment, different ways to live. The most important thing is to relax and think.”


New lessons to be learnt: internet marketing


On top of digitalizing performances, another challenge for these groups to take on is the marketing of their online shows – from selecting the online platforms for uploading the videos, to allocating resources for promotion, to setting prices for viewers to access the programmes.


Kelvin Mak, Artistic Director of Beyond Dance Theatre, points out that art groups in Hong Kong have not put enough resources into internet marketing, despite the government supporting the digitalization of artwork.


“For instance, how do we place an advertisement? How do we understand the features of different platforms in a professional manner? How do we target certain groups instead of wasting money on advertising too broadly?” he asks.


“There’s a paucity of such development in Hong Kong. How do we attract more viewers to contemporary and modern dance? Do we have to stop our production work and focus on internet marketing? Not necessarily, but paradoxes are gradually emerging.”


Shirley Lam, Company Manager of Passoverdance, depicts the difficulties they face in positioning their shows on internet marketing, due to the discrepancies between the expectations of producers and viewers.


“It was the start of the pandemic, when many overseas companies were providing free-of-charge online shows. Because these large-scale organizations were offering shows for free to audiences, people wondered why we were charging them [to watch our shows],” she says.


“However, people haven’t thought about how we have got our work cut out for us: as a small art group, production is no easy task, not to mention the much higher cost of hiring a film crew compared to doing live shows. While people think that everything online should be free-of-charge, we actually have to spend a lot of time and money to make this happen.”


“It was hard for us to decide what to do. On the one hand we wanted more people to watch our shows, but on the other, we needed to minimize our losses in a very trying time. At the time, we didn’t know how long the pandemic would last, so we charged viewers a price close to that of attending a live performance. In the end sales were not ideal, as expected.”


Lam suggests the industry should put the emphasis on changing viewers’ mindset. “Not everything online should be free-of-charge.”


The knowledge gap between producers and viewers has to be bridged to open a path of communication.


In addition to the issue of pricing, she adds that after the past year there’s a need to re-examine and explore using different online platforms for promotion.


“The platforms or channels through which we used to promote are losing clients: for example we used to rely a lot on Facebook and Instagram, but many people are leaving those sites. The remaining users are not our target audience. Young people and secondary school students don’t go on Facebook much anymore,” she explains.


“When we digitalize our shows, we have to adapt to not only the differences between online and live production, but also the changes in the marketing environment.”


Asked how to keep the attraction of the old channels and also appeal to the younger audience via new platforms, Lam admits the group is still looking for the answer.


“It’s very difficult!” she says. “MeWe is the hottest platform today, then tomorrow Clubhouse comes along … People are scattered over different platforms. Mastering the art of allocating resources to the right platforms has become challenging and time-consuming.”


Tailoring artwork to different mediums


For art groups and artists, amidst the vast wave of online shows, the biggest conflict comes down to the tug of war between video and live performances. Future artwork brainstorming sessions inevitably revolve around the same questions: What is the nature of performance art? What will the theatre of the future look like?


To Mak, turning performances created for the theatre into online shows is not an option, as it’s impossible to present the same artwork in these two very different mediums.