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[中][ENG]講好一場舞蹈:探討香港口述影像發展

文:陳國慧


當舞蹈欣賞對大部分觀眾來說是自然而然的事,如何令藝術真正邀請不同能力和身體狀況的觀眾共同欣賞和參與,是這個社會要一起關心的事。隨著本地不同組織如香港展能藝術會、香港盲人輔導會等近十多年推動口述影像發展的成果,透過政策倡議、爭取資源、持續培訓、教育推廣等各方面,加強大眾對之的認識,特別是製作人、藝術家和藝團的關注。多年從事口述影像服務與藝術策劃的顏素茵(DD)本期接受訪問。她曾在發表於2021年8月《舞蹈手札》第23(4)期的文章〈不敢評論的困惑——《我的無限舞台》口述影像舞蹈錄像〉內坦言:「在香港講平權是漫漫長路,藝術通達服務是體現平權之舉,畢竟仍是要加以宣傳的事,此舉起碼讓有需要口述影像的觀眾留意得到,如有噱頭效果並非壞事。」

陳國慧與顏素茵就口述影像的發展進行對談 Bernice Chan in conversation with Dorothy Ngan about the development of audio description (照片由國際演藝評論家協會(香港分會)提供 Photo provided by International Association of Theatre Critics (Hong Kong))


如以2011年香港展能藝術會獲賽馬會慈善信託基金的支持下進行的「藝術通達計劃」為一個參考起點,這十年間從有機會被視為噱頭,到業界與大眾都意識到藝術平權的重要性,「漫漫長路」有很多朋友同行,即使知道還有一段路要走。藝術通達計劃網頁列出2011年後由計劃提供口述影像的舞蹈製作,早期主要是香港芭蕾舞團的公開綵排,後來陸續有不同大小舞團作品參與。DD在2020年9月透過西九表演藝術教育創研計劃支持項目進行「香港通達劇場調查計劃:跨越視覺障礙」並發表了研究報告,其中有關統計,可見演藝口述影像的發展空間:「在2011年至2019年期間,本地劇場為視障觀眾提供的口述影像服務場次總計只有約260場,平均每年只有28.9場,與每年表演藝術節目逾6,000場作比較,未及1%。」(頁8),當中舞蹈作品佔不足15齣。


香港展能藝術會藝術通達計劃經理陳嘉賢表示,戲劇作品相對受歡迎,有情節和故事脈絡的確是原因,舞蹈作品的呈現有時難免抽象,因此初期選述的舞蹈作品都會是大家較熟悉的故事和舞碼。身為2008年本地首批獲培訓的口述影像員,DD則娓娓道來當透過口述影像來呈現舞蹈這表演形式時,在本質上最大的挑戰。她首先肯定的是縱然演藝類型不同,但口述原則是相同的,就是「把(在表演空間內)見到的說出來,並非詮釋,要以精準客觀的文字去描述,令聽的人能有清晰的想像。」


然而最困難的,是如何追求口述影像和舞蹈動作同步,還有對節奏的把握,「當動作已經完成,口述亦不能太慢」。DD笑言獨舞還可以「死跟」,但如果是群舞或編舞選擇整個舞台空間都有活動發生,口述影像員就難以完全描述清楚全貌。DD會反思如果自己是觀眾,其實在這樣的情況下都要選擇的,因此她會替用家(user)去進行選擇,而在這時就會思考,到底編舞希望觀眾見到的呈現會是甚麼:「如果編舞是要表達紛亂的景象,就不要只集中描述單一舞者的動態。」當我們經常在演後討論,聽到觀眾像追求正確答案般問編舞其意圖時,編舞可能會想保留最大的想像空間;然而當為舞蹈作品進行口述影像時,編舞意圖表達的訊息和氛圍就顯得相當重要,能夠為口述影像員提供最恰當的資訊讓他們能實踐口述原則。

城市當代舞蹈團安排的演前導賞工作坊,讓參與者透過觸摸舞台設計的模型(觸感),了解表演空間的設計 Pre-performance workshop arranged by City Contemporary Dance Company, where participants could know the design of the stage space by touching the set design model (tactile)(照片由香港展能藝術會提供 Photo provided by ADAHK)


舞蹈作品經常會介入即興元素,DD說這些就要依靠口述影像員多看、多思考和多揣摩:「舞台上有獨舞、群舞同時發生,口述影像員要選擇焦點,或有不同考慮,但這些考慮必須要和編舞想法貼近,並且要判斷描述的內容所需時間。這不是隨便來的,否則對聽者造成干擾,對編舞亦不公平。」


事實上,要順利讓舞蹈作品進行口述影像,主辦者和編舞的共識是重要的,口述影像員要了解編舞的創作背景、使用的身體語彙的特色等,最理想是能與編舞直接溝通,如最近「自由舞2023」《女俠傳奇》的編舞,因其本身做口述影像研究,所以DD很早就能與她溝通。至於藝團本身是否意識口述影像的價值也是一環,她曾經參與過最豐富配套的,是2016年天堂鳥劇團來港演出《米蘭達與卡里班:惡魔審判日》,她與隨團口述影像員有機合作,演員甚至錄音自我介紹,聽者在演出前已經認知角色的聲音了。


還有的是,編舞是否認知和相信口述影像,DD說:「我理解編舞會擔心,我們如何用文字來呈現原是跳出來的作品──的確在形式上是轉換了──肢體的表達加上劇場效果如何被語言再現,這件事是複雜的,他們會覺得作品因此變得平板沒趣,即使編舞開綠燈,但聽者是否明白和接收到又是另一問題。」以文字再現舞蹈的複雜性,對舞評人來說應該絕不陌生,甚至是書寫入門的必修課,看來有心的舞評人可能別具條件參與口述影像呢。


然而,清楚表達、精準到位這些原則還是要把握,口述影像員的文字功力未必有很大的創造性,反而是實用性較重要。不過,舞蹈終究會較多抽象的呈現,對先天失明者來說會不容易理解,如避用「飄」,或DD舉例芭蕾舞有很多抬起或舉起的動作,「如直說男舞者托起女舞者──這樣甚麼美感也沒有了,改用抱、舉或輕托這些字眼會較好」。但保持用字淺白,同一用字盡量不要重複太多次,否則聽者的想像也會沒變化:「要多思考靈活地用字,想像聽者如何透過你的描述想像到豐富的畫面。」


DD說大部分舞蹈的口述影像是要備稿的,因一旦抓不住那瞬間數秒便會影響節奏:「(粵語)一秒約3.5至4個字,一旦失神落差了幾秒有可能窒礙聽者接收,以舞蹈來說,一分鐘不間斷的動態表演,要用一小時寫首稿,往後不斷修改完善。」至於如何講出節奏感,她說要懂得計算拍子,與音樂配合,或可以四字、五字或七字發展句子:「當然口述影像員本身要投入,當表演者慢慢移動,你的語氣也要配合。」能找到這種「共感」對口述影像來說相當重要。


對聽者來說這種「共感」又如何找到?近年舞蹈口述影像也有不同程度的發展值得進一步開拓。陳嘉賢表示自五、六年前,他們參考了海外舞團的做法,為視障朋友舉辦演前工作坊,讓他們透過舞動身體了解作品內重要的動作和所用的力量,或讓他們觸摸戲服,感覺物料的輕重,更多元地了解該舞蹈作品的構成;2021年為進行香港舞蹈團製作《媽祖》口述影像影片,甚至安排在放映會前參觀香港仔天后廟,這樣的配搭在不同持份者的努力下,令舞蹈的美麗體現在不同社群裡。


顏素茵在控制室為劇場演出提供現場口述影像服務 Dorothy Ngan providing live audio description service for a theatrical performance in the control room/攝 photo:Jack Li(照片由顏素茵提供 Photo provided by Dorothy Ngan)


回想初期先從香港演藝學院舞蹈學院的畢業展開始,與學生探索與舞作相關的觸感工作坊,陳嘉賢表示從學院開始是希望透過讓學生了解舞蹈如何透過不同方式呈現,以致更多觀眾能共享,播下這些理念的種子,對未來不論是口述影像或是其他通達方式的發展是大有幫助。


另一發展進路是培養口述影像員。DD表示當年在香港受訓時,在有限節數內蜻蜓點水地認識口述影像在所有藝術範疇的應用,但近年主辦者考慮不同範疇在口述策略與進路上的差異,就有意識地分開視覺藝術、表演藝術等由不同的專家提供訓練,同時口述影像員亦自動分了組,專注進行較熟悉或擅長的藝術範疇。這樣的發展既保持口述的質素,同時讓口述影像員更聚焦去累積經驗,長遠來說對聽者來說是有效益的。


DD表示訓練必須包含實習,而香港的口述影像課程近年亦開始規範化與系統化,相對於早年較寬鬆的做法,儘管已受訓但學員水平難免較參差,而他們是否有「時間、熱誠和能力投入服務」是很大疑問。因此訓練的規範化與系統化,長遠令學員可持續投入服務的條件提高。DD舉例盲人輔導會專門舉辦電影口述影像課程,最近的一年制課程就很完善,包括在錄音室錄音、訓練聲線,還有實習和導師跟進;香港展能藝術會亦是先行者,結合海外導師的授課與本地導師的後續跟進,畢竟懂粵語的導師才能較準確地了解本地語彙和語言節奏。


事實上除了與編舞溝通、備稿和看綵排外,一個演出多數只由一位口述影像員負責,換人意味聲音的轉變,聽者要重新適應,並不理想。因此口述影像員的付出真的不少,而參與口述影像的工作也是一種承擔。當然這種承擔要讓業界來分擔不同角色。隨著業界意識藝術通達的重要性,DD覺得藝團的行政人員和製作人,可以多了解本地不同能力與需要的觀眾的分佈和構成,主動接觸不同組織探索更多潛在的觀眾,以制定恰當的推廣策略與配套,讓所有人能平等地享受藝術。這願景需要不同持份者繼續澆花,讓藝術的香氣恆久散發。


參考資料

「香港通達劇場調查計劃:跨越視覺障礙」研究報告:

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陳國慧


國際演藝評論家協會(香港分會)總經理,策劃超過五十個本地和國際藝評項目。



What makes good audio description for dance: Exploring the development of audio description in Hong Kong

Text: Bernice Chan

Translator: Eva Kan


While dance appreciation comes naturally to most of the audience, there is increasing concern in society as to how the arts can genuinely welcome audiences of all abilities to appreciate and participate in arts events. Over the past decade or so, public awareness and in particular that of producers, artists and arts groups of this issue has been strengthened due to the efforts of various local organisations such as Arts with the Disabled Association Hong Kong (ADAHK), and the Hong Kong Society for the Blind (HKSB) in facilitating the development of audio description (AD) for visually impaired audiences through policy initiatives, striving for resources, continuous training, education and promotion, etc.

“There is a long way to go when speaking of equal rights in Hong Kong. Arts accessibility services embody equal rights and continue to need more promotion, through which we hope at least to attract the attention of audiences who need AD. Even if it’s perceived as a gimmick, that may not be a bad thing.” Dorothy Ngan So-yan, an experienced audio describer and arts administrator interviewed for this Focus piece, says frankly in the article “The Perplexity of Not Daring to Comment — My Unlimited Stage [Dance Video with Audio Description]” published in dance journal/hk 23-4 Issue in August 2021.

在香港舞蹈團演出前的導賞工作坊,參與者透過觸摸表演服飾,探索不同質感在舞台上的呈現,有助了解作品內容 At the pre-performance workshop of Hong Kong Dance Company, participants touched the costumes and explored the appearance of different textures on stage, which was helpful in their understanding of the content of the dance work(照片由香港展能藝術會提供 Photo provided by ADAHK)


If we take ADAHK’s Arts Accessibility Scheme, supported by the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust in 2011 as a starting point, equal access to the arts over the past ten years has progressed from being regarded as a ‘gimmick’ to being recognised as important by the arts sector and the public. There are a lot of companions on the ‘long way’, even though we know there is still some distance to go. The Arts Accessibility Scheme website lists dance productions which have provided AD services under the Scheme since 2011. In the early period these were mainly Hong Kong Ballet’s open rehearsals, later on more dance groups and productions on different scales have gradually joined in. Ngan conducted a study entitled “Research on Accessible Theatre in Hong Kong – Overcoming Visual Barriers” and published a report in September 2020 with the support of West Kowloon Young Fellows Scheme (Performing Arts). The statistics shown in the report revealed room for development for providing AD services in performing arts: “Between 2011 and 2019, the total number of local theatre performances which provided AD services for visually impaired audiences was only around 260, with an average of 28.9 performances each year. Compared to the total number of over 6,000 performances each year, this came to less than 1%.” (Page 8) and out of these less than 15 were dance productions.


The Arts Accessibility Scheme Manager of ADAHK, Chan Ka-yin, says that drama performances are more popular, as they have storylines, while the nature of dance works is inevitably often abstract. As a result, early on dance productions equipped with AD were narrative works or those that people are more familiar with. As one of the first batch of local audio describers who received training in 2008, Ngan explains what are the biggest challenges of using AD to describe dance. She first notes that even though there are different performing arts forms, the principle of AD is the same, that is “say what you see [in the performance space], not interpreting it but describing it in precise and objective words, giving clear information for the audience to use their imagination”.


However, the most difficult thing is how to synchronise AD with dance steps, and also the grasp of rhythm, “when the movement is completed, the AD cannot lag behind”. Ngan says jokingly that AD can still ‘closely follow’ a solo dance , but if it is a group dance, or the choreographer chooses to fill the whole stage with movement, it is difficult for the audio describer to convey the full picture. Ngan reflects that if she was in the audience, she would also have to make choices of what to look at in this situation, and therefore she would help the AD user to choose. When doing this, she thinks about what the choreographer would like the audience to see: “If the choreographer would like to display a chaotic scene, the AD should not be focused on an individual’s movement.” During meet-the-artist sessions, we often hear audiences ask about the choreographer’s intention, as if hoping to receive the ‘right’ answers, while the choreographer may want to leave room for audiences to use their imagination as much as possible. However, when applying AD to a dance work, the message and vibe that the choreographer intends to portray become crucial in order to provide the most suitable information for the audio describer to practise the principle of AD.


香港芭蕾舞團安排演前工作坊,在導師帶領下,參與者自己舞動身體,了解作品內的主要動作 Pre-performance workshop arranged by Hong Kong Ballet, where participants moved their bodies to understand the main movements of the work under the guidance of the instructor (照片由香港展能藝術會提供 Photo provided by ADAHK)


Improvisation is common in dance works, and Ngan says audio describers frequently need to watch, think, and surmise: “Solos and group numbers can take place at the same time on stage, and the audio describer has to decide what to focus on, or, when taking different things into consideration, those considerations must be close to the choreographer’s thoughts, plus the describer also needs to determine the timing of the description. These are not casual decisions, otherwise it will be unsettling for the audience as well as unfair to the choreographer.”


In fact, consensus with the choreographer is important to create effective AD for a dance work, as the audio describer needs to have information such as the background of the work and the movement style of the choreography. Direct communication with the choreographer is ideal. For example, the choreographer of Freespace Dance 2023: She Legend does AD research herself, so Ngan was able to communicate with her at a very early stage. It also matters whether the arts group itself is aware of the value of AD. The performance with the most comprehensive ancillary services that Ngan has participated in is Birds of Paradise Theatre Company’s Miranda and Caliban: The Making of a Monster, an overseas production staged in Hong Kong in 2016. She worked organically with the audio describer who was accompanying the company. The actors even made recordings introducing themselves, so that the audience could learn to recognise the voices of the characters before the performance.


Another question is whether choreographers understand and believe in AD. Ngan says, “I understand that choreographers would worry how we use words to present a dance work—the form is undeniably changed—reproducing body movement together with theatrical effects in language is complicated. They think the work may become dull and uninteresting. Even if the choreographer gives the green light, another problem is whether the audience could understand and perceive it.”


Nonetheless, audio describers still need to grasp the fundamental principles of AD—being clear and precise. They may not use too much creativity in their language, as practicality is more important. Dance, however, has more relatively abstract forms, which are not easy to understand for people who are born blind. For example, the word ‘float’ should be avoided. Ngan also notes that in ballet, where there are many lifts,“If we say the male dancer lifts up the female dancer—the beauty is lost. It would be better if we use expressions like ‘carry (her) in his arms’, ‘raise’ or ‘lift lightly’ ”. You must remember to use plain language and try not to repeat the same word too many times, or the audience's imagination will not be inspired: “You need to think more about using a variety of words, to imagine how you can convey a rich picture to the audience through your description.”


Ngan says that for most audio described dance works, a script is prepared, because once a few seconds are missed, that will affect the rhythm: “It is around 3.5 to 4 words per second (in Cantonese), if one misses a few seconds, that might affect the reception by the audience. For dance, writing the first draft of a one-minute performance with non-stop movement takes an hour, followed by continuous amendments and refinements.” As for finding ways to deliver the sense of rhythm, she says one needs to know how to count the beats and speak in time with the music, or articulate a sentence in four, five, or seven words: “Of course the audio describers have to be engaged themselves. When the performer moves slowly, you need to match that.” It is really important to find this ‘shared sense’ when doing AD.


As for the audience, how can they find this ‘shared sense’? In recent years, AD for dance has undergone a number of different developments worthy of being taken further. Chan mentions that five to six years ago, they started to take reference from overseas dance groups and hold pre-performance workshops for visually impaired audiences, where participants could move their bodies to understand the main steps and the energy required in the dance piece, or touch the costumes to feel the weight of the fabrics, thus giving them a fuller understanding of the composition of the work. In 2021, for the production of the AD for Hong Kong Dance Company’s Mazu the Sea Goddess, a visit was arranged to Tin Hau Temple in Aberdeen before the screening, in which the efforts of different stakeholders brought the beauty of dance to life for different communities.


Chan recalls that early on they started with a graduation exhibition at the School of Dance of the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, exploring touch workshops related to dance with the students. Chan says they started with the Academy with the aim of planting seeds for the future by letting students learn how dance can be presented in different ways and shared by more audiences, so as to benefit the development of AD or other accessibility services in the future.


Another area of development is the training of audio describers. Ngan says when she received training in Hong Kong in the early days, she briefly learned the application of AD for all art forms through limited sessions, while in recent years, considering the differences in AD strategy and development for different art forms, organisers have consciously separated visual art and performing arts and assigned different experts to provide training. Also, audio describers are split into groups to focus on the art forms they are more familiar with or more skilled at. This kind of development maintains the quality of AD, as well as allowing audio describers to focus on accumulating experience, which will benefit audiences in the long term.


Ngan says training must include practice, and the AD courses in Hong Kong have become more standardised and systematic in recent years, compared to the less rigorous methods in the early days. Even if the students are trained, the quality of their work inevitably varies, and whether they have sufficient “time, passion and capability to commit to the service” is always a big question. Therefore, making the training more standardised and systematic in the long run can improve sustainable service delivery. Ngan gives the example of the “Audio Description Training Programme of Film” organised by HKSB, saying that its recent elementary and advanced courses are more comprehensive than the previous ones, as they include professional recording training and vocal training, as well as internships and mentorship; ADAHK is also a pioneer, combining teaching by overseas tutors with follow-up by local ones, as tutors who speak Cantonese have a more accurate understanding of the vocabulary and rhythm of the language.


In fact, in addition to communicating with the choreographer, preparing the script and watching rehearsals, an individual audio describer is responsible for the whole of each performance, as switching audio describer would mean obliging the audience to adapt to a new voice, which is not ideal. Therefore, being an audio describer means putting in a lot of effort and participating in AD services requires a serious commitment. Of course the commitment to AD needs to be shared by different players in the industry. With the rising awareness of the importance of arts accessibility, Ngan thinks that arts groups should seek to learn more about the distribution and composition of local audiences with different abilities and needs. They can then reach out to various organisations to explore building potential audiences and formulate targeted promotion strategies and support services, so that everyone can enjoy the arts equally. This vision of accessibility is a flower that needs to be watered continually by different stakeholders, so that the fragrance of the arts does not fade.



Reference

Research report on “Research on Accessible Theatre in Hong Kong – Overcoming Visual Barriers”:

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Bernice Chan


Bernice Chan is the General Manager of the International Association of Theatre Critics (Hong Kong). She has curated over 50 local and international projects about performing arts criticism.

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