[中][ENG] 關於舞蹈整存的一些思考 Some Thoughts on Dance Archiving

關於舞蹈整存的一些思考


文:陳瑋鑫



近年「斷捨離」的普及與流行,恰恰鼓勵我們去認真思考,到底有甚麼東西值得保留,又有甚麼東西即使棄掉也無關痛癢;然而,有時候一件事物應否留下,可能不只涉及個人情感與功能,往往還要考慮其文化與歷史意義,就像前陣子險被整座清拆掉,有百年歷史的主教山配水庫,對今天的人來說,它可能只是一個早已廢棄的空間,但觀其設計特色與建築歷史,大家都會認同它甚為值得保留活化。對於一件實物、一座建築,要保留下來或許只要有空間便可以,但對於稍縱即逝的表演藝術,特別是肢體藝術如舞蹈,我們又可以如何紀錄和整存,讓後人可以重新發挖並作參考研究呢?


錄影作為演出紀錄的局限


首先,我們要先來弄清楚幾個概念。對於很多人來說,在這個人人也能拿起手機拍攝影像的時代,把現場演出給攝錄下來,不就已經能將演出紀錄,並且可以將之納入資料庫作為典藏了嗎?當然,如果只是用作參考紀錄,目前普及的影像攝錄科技已經可以將舞台上呈現的畫面以高解析度記下,但這個成像卻絕不能稱得上是全面且實在地捕捉到整個作品。畢竟現場表演的重點是表演者會共時共地與觀眾互動,而舞蹈藝術就更加強調肢體與空間的關係,目前的平面化錄影與屏幕播放方式,皆未能具體再現舞作在三維空間中的律動變化,更不用提鏡頭運動與剪接對觀眾接收的影響。


除了受制於影像大小與其平面特性,令作品錄影削弱了舞台演出之空間感外,若非親歷其中,而只透過鏡頭畫面去看表演的話,感受難免疏離,因演者的能量無可避免地變得比較渙散。此外,在現場拍攝的數碼影像,跟身處現場欣賞也有一定程度的聲、色落差。大家或許都理解現場音樂錄音,需要一定的專業器材及技術,但進行舞蹈演出錄影時卻鮮有考慮現場錄音的重要性,而主要聚焦於舞台上的舞者動作,故難言擷取到現場觀演的全方位感官經驗;再加上數碼影像跟肉眼所見的成像在色調與對比上有一定差距,例如鏡頭下所拍攝的畫面色彩會更濃烈、明暗對比更分明,使舞台影像紀錄比現場所看到的,更添戲劇性。


將全方位紀錄彙整成典藏


因此,演出錄影極其量只能視為舞作的其中一個參考紀錄,如果說到要延續一支舞作的生命,讓後來者可以重溫了解,就至少要集合整個製作不同階段的全方位紀錄,以作整存(archive,動詞),再彙整成為資料庫/典藏(archive,名詞)的一部分。這些紀錄包括但不限於概念闡述、創作手稿、動作探索至排練記錄(影像/文字)、佈景及道具草圖、服裝與造型設計,還有燈光、音響、投映等設計詳情,以及由舞台監督準備的演出提示本(prompt book)等等。當然,很多這些由草創至製作階段的紀錄材料往往在演出過後都會被忽略而散失,就算有不少舞團會將其一一收集存檔,但受資源所限,也無法持續及有系統地進行整理,把相關的紀錄整存成可方便其他人翻閱、重溫、研究的典藏資料,而只能一直躺於文件櫃內一個個塵封了的盒子當中,靜待某天會有有心人來翻一翻。


然而,這一大堆從舞蹈創作中衍生出來的材料,到底要怎樣整理?如何再彙整存檔?其實這是非常專門的學問。現時其中一個主要統整手法,是為各樣紀錄材料先分門別類,再逐一加上詮釋資料(metadata),就像我們會在社交媒體的帖文上加上標籤(hashtag)一樣,作為標示其分類的手法,點出主題、主創者及提出相關的關鍵詞等等。要創建一個成功的資料庫,其研究員還必須要有一套統一的檢核工具與思維模式,去為那些千奇百怪的紀錄碎片加入詮釋資料,便利當下的資料整存,與及之後有機會應用到的搜尋工作。故早在資料庫完整構建,甚至在一眾紀錄還未出現之前,我們就已經要想像未來的研究者會如何運用或搜尋資料,以選出最合適用作詮釋資料的字詞。


透過身傳及言說留住歷史


不過,舞蹈不同於戲劇或音樂,影像、聲音及文字或可記下演出的一鱗半爪,但舞者的內在狀態與動作質感細節就不容易留傳。所以要留住舞蹈經典,絕不能簡單利用周邊材料去作典藏,那只等同將活生生的作品,放入死寂的文物箱;要成為不朽,就必須要持續活化,對舞蹈作品而言,就只有手把手去把作品留傳,透過新的舞者以實在的肢體律動去消化領略,才能真正將作品留下。身體作為歷史載體,遠比其他紀錄來得真切重要。


至於要構築一個城市的舞蹈資料庫,純粹保存以作品為單位的紀錄實不足夠,更重要的是能讓不同人審視到更多資料,可以從更宏觀的角度去梳理舞蹈發展史,而這一方面就不得不牽涉到相關人士的訪問分享,又或者要交由第三方研究員作專業研究並撰寫專文。這一方面,本港近年也有不少有心人開始關注,例如2019年亦先後有《拾舞話:香港舞蹈口述歷史(五十至七十年代)》[1]及《香港當代編舞家作品研究(1980 - 2010):香港當代舞蹈歷史、美學及身分探求》[2]這兩本對香港舞蹈歷史鈎沉極具重要意義的書籍出版。縱使口述歷史只能靠受訪者的記憶言說,年代久遠也考證困難,但至少補足了早期缺乏紀錄材料的發展面貌,而這也是要趕在歷史回憶碎片消失殆盡前必須留住的。


構建表演藝術資料庫


要維護歷史材料並加以整存,額外的資源卻又少不免,可是沒有直接經濟效益的整存研究工作長期都不受重視。各大資助機構也沒有資助去支持這一方面的工程,再加上本地大學缺乏相關研究單位,目前要在香港執行舞蹈整存,並且深化知識,似乎是天方夜譚。本地表演業界多年來一直有聲音倡議成立表演藝術資料館,為業界及相關研究者提供一個實體空間,儲存及整理各項材料,並策劃不同活動去引起大眾對表演藝術發展的關注,可是有關討論始終未能說服政府去展開任何行動。


在未有官方的實體庫藏機構成立前,短期內可以做的,就要依靠各藝團或創作人自行整存資料,再利用網絡資源去公開發佈。經歷去年全球疫情,世界各地藝團都更明白網絡資料庫的重要性,尤其是作為閉館時維持與觀眾關係的工具。唯一要注意的是,創作及演出人員在參與作品時,合約上未必有列明其演出或創作在網絡上發佈的條款及其相關權益,而且不少舞蹈作品往往會用上非原創的音樂,故要把作品在劇院外其他渠道公開發佈時,其實需要另一輪的行政工作,去處理個人權益與版權事宜。


攝:《舞蹈手札》編輯部



[1] 李海燕、林喜兒,《拾舞話:香港舞蹈口述歷史(五十至七十年代)》。香港:城市當代舞蹈團及國際演藝評論家協會(香港分會),2019。

[2] 文潔華編,《香港當代編舞家作品研究1980-2010:香港當代舞蹈歷史、美學及身分探求》。香港:國際演藝評論家協會(香港分會),2019。



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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。



Some Thoughts on Dance Archiving


Original text: William Chan

Translator: Claudia Law



In recent years, the idea of ‘decluttering’ has become more popular. This makes us think about what to keep and what to get rid of. Nevertheless, when we decide what we will or won’t keep, the decision doesn’t only hinge on the sentimental value of the old items, we have to consider their cultural and historical value as well. Take the century-old underground service reservoir in Shek Kip Mei. Today it seems like just an abandoned place, but when we look into its design and architectural value, we all agree that it deserves conservation. Whether for objects or buildings, we need space for preservation. As for the performing arts, especially dance performances, with their fleeting nature, how can we record and archive them so as to aid researchers in the future?


The limitations of video-recording as archiving


First, we have to clarify a few concepts. For many people, in an age where everyone can record videos on their phone, shouldn’t we just record live performances on camera for archival work? Of course, this serves the purpose of leaving a record. The camera can record live performances on stage with high resolution, yet the video recording cannot capture the performance as a whole with the same clarity. After all, a crucial element of live performance is the rapport between the performers and the audience, and dance also emphasizes the relationship between body and space. The current 2-D form of filming and projecting on screen cannot capture the alternation of rhythms in a 3-D space, not to mention how the camera movement and editing affect the perception of the viewers.


Due to the limitations of the 2-D form and image size, the spatiality of the performance on stage is weakened. If we are not on site, viewing the performance solely through the camera may sometimes be an alienating experience. The energy of the performers will be unavoidably lost. Besides, watching recorded performances on digital devices will be different from watching them live in terms of sound and image. We may all understand that music and sound recording for live performance requires professional equipment and techniques. But when dance performances are filmed on camera, the significance of sound recording is often neglected. We mainly focus on the dancers’ gestures and movements on stage. Therefore, the recording doesn’t really address all five of our senses. Moreover, there is a stark contrast between viewing on screen and on stage – the colour tone transmitted through the camera is sharper, the light contrast is stronger – which makes the recording watched on screen more theatrical.


Organizing a comprehensive range of records for archiving


As a result, recording on camera is only one way of archiving dance performances. When we wish to extend the afterlife of a dance performance, allowing people to revisit the piece, we need to collect records from different stages of the production. This enables us to archive (verb) and thereafter organize the materials into an archive (noun). These records include but are not limited to the artistic concepts, creative notes, movements or rehearsal records (both in videos and photographs), drafts of the scenography, set and costume designs, the details of lighting, sound and projection design, as well as the prompt book prepared by the Stage Manager etc. Many of these materials from the early stages of production are disregarded and disappear after the performance has taken place. Even if the dance companies file such materials, there are not enough resources for continuous and systematic filing to further archive the materials for people to browse, revisit or research. They can only lie in a drawer gathering dust to wait for people with sufficiently keen interest to uncover them.


So, how can we organize these materials which come from dance performances? How can we file and archive them? This requires specialized skills. One method of archiving is to first organize the records into different categories, then label them with metadata, just like the way we label hashtags in our posts on social media. The labelling process serves to indicate the theme, authors and relevant key words etc. To build a successful archive, the researchers must have unified checking tools and a shared mentality. They have to insert metadata for all sorts of materials collected, which will help archive and research work in the future. Thus, while building the archive or even before the archival materials are produced, we have to imagine how future researchers will utilize the archive.


Preserving history: mentoring and oral history


Dance performances differ from theatrical or musical performances. Records of drama and music can be preserved through video, audio or text. For dance, the inner state of the dancers and the subtlety of their movements cannot really be recorded. Hence, in order to archive dance classics, preserving the materials that come from different stages of production is not enough. That would mean putting a living work into a dead box. We have to keep the work alive in order to preserve it. Dance can only be passed down through mentoring by previous generations. New dancers will learn the movements and rhythms. Bodies serve as the transmitters of history.


To build a dance archive for a city, preserving performances alone is not enough. More importantly, we have to let more people view the materials, so we can explore the history of dance from a wider perspective. This will involve relevant parties sharing knowledge, or independent researchers writing. Awareness of this has recently grown. For example, in 2019 two books were published – Dialogues on Dance: Hong Kong Dance Oral History (1950s – 1970s)[1] and Hong Kong Contemporary Choreographers Research 1980 – 2010: Hong Kong Contemporary Dance History, Aesthesis and Identity-Searching[2] - which are important for local dance history. Since oral history relies on the interviewees’ memory, it is hard to trace back in terms of accuracy, but at least it captures the historic development when archival materials are lacking. It is also about preserving those memories before they fade.


Building a Performing Arts Archive


To preserve historical materials, extra resources are needed. Yet, as this is not financially profitable, it is often neglected. Funding bodies won’t give extra grants for this kind of work. Local universities do not have relevant institutional units. So at present it is almost impossible for us to work on dance archiving in Hong Kong. For a long time the local performing industry has called for the creation of a performing arts archive, providing a space for the industry and researchers to organize various materials. They have aimed to curate various events to raise public awareness of performing arts. Nonetheless, the arguments put forward have failed to persuade the government to take any action.


While an official archive is yet to be established, in the short term all we can do is to rely on arts organizations and individuals to preserve materials on their own, and to publish the resources online later on. During this time of the pandemic, arts organizations around the world have come to understand the significance of online archives, especially in using them as a way to connect with audiences. The only concern is that production contracts might not include the terms and rights of online distribution. Many dance performances use music which is not original. So when the work is shown online, this involves another round of administrative work to deal with copyright issues.



[1] Joanna Lee Hoi-yin, Lam Heyee. Dialogues on Dance: Hong Kong Dance Oral History (1950s – 1970s). Hong Kong: City Contemporary Dance Company and Hong Kong: International Association of Theatre Critics (Hong Kong), 2019.

[2] Man, Kit-wah (ed.) Hong Kong Contemporary Choreographers Research 1980 – 2010: Hong Kong Contemporary Dance History, Aesthesis and Identity-Searching. Hong Kong: International Association of Theatre Critics (Hong Kong), 2019



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William Chan

William Chan is a veteran arts critic and media producer. He has been engaged mainly in performing arts research and media education in recent years.

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