香港的普及教育框架裡面，其實是有舞蹈這一部分。（是真的！）可是，藝術教育  主要是關於視覺藝術層面的培訓，縱然戲劇是近年積極研究發展的一部分，所謂中小學的藝術教育，都是以視覺藝術為主導，舞蹈是歸類於體育範疇  的。身體的歸身體，單單是這樣的分類，大家就不難理解，為甚麼舞蹈總是不成氣候，總是一種「課外活動」。雖說舞蹈是體育教育其中的一個部分，目前有幾多學校會從小學開始在體育課引入舞蹈單元呢？大概三十年前，我就讀的中學會在體育課教跳舞，但男同學會繼續打球，女同學就跟老師舞動。為推動香港的基礎舞蹈教育，教育局其實設有網上資源庫，提供綜合舞蹈教材套 ，社交舞、創作舞、西方土風舞、爵士舞及街舞和中國舞，由體育教師消化再去傳授。在199x年代，我也是跟一班當時就讀教育學院的準體育教師們一起學習舞蹈，這既是準體育教師們的學習課程，也可以變成他們的興趣。難怪演藝學院畢業的專業舞者，只可以是香港教育結構當中的課外活動導師，因為在目前制度裡面，文理商三類學科主宰了整個框架，藝術、情緒、身體等的教育，是可被剔除的非必修項目。
《舞出新機 ─ 舞蹈藝術》／照片由香港演藝學院應用學習課程部提供
非必修，即是不必要。家長可以為了子女多幾張證書而鼓勵他們日以繼夜的練習舞蹈，學校也可以為了校際舞蹈比賽多一個獎座，而容許學生不參與某些課後補課去排練。當然，有些家長和學校都是純綷支持舞蹈藝術教育，讓年青人有更多探索的空間。畢竟，舞蹈不只是郁手郁腳，每一個舞蹈風格，都有其獨特的培訓方法和方向，而且，舞蹈除了包含表演的元素以外，創作、與他人溝通合作等，根本不全然是身體的事情。Christina M. Hong  在2002年聯合國教科文組織區域性藝術教育會議中提出2000年紐西蘭的藝術教育改革，令戲劇、舞蹈及視覺藝術成為小學至高中課程的必修項目，而當中舞蹈則以當地原住民的傳統舞蹈為教學藍本，讓學生從學習舞蹈當中，同時認識當地的歷史和文化，促進多元種族之間的共融。香港演藝學院開辦十年有多的新高中應用學習課程《舞出新機 ─ 舞蹈藝術》 是難得開放予全港高中學生的專業學習單元，學生需要透過學校報名參加，整個180小時的課程，屬於資歷架構第三級的證書課程，可以替代新高中其中一科選修科（又有些學生選擇不退選學校原本的學科）。課程以大學學士課程內容為藍本，讓年青人透過舞動、創作和觀賞，掌握不同舞蹈風格和明白舞蹈動作的基本原理。同時，學生有機會在舞蹈創作、組織和編排過程中，運用決策、分析和解難能力，展示小組合作的能力、個人責任和正面價值觀。不過，香港的應用學習發展未如理想，有志發展舞蹈專業的年青人未必得到充分資訊，又或者根本其學校未必允許參加這類型由其他課程機構提供的學習，影響學生本來的學習進度。
 Christina M. Hong, DANCE IN THE SCHOOL CURRICULUM OF AOTEAROA NEW ZEALAND (2002). http://www.unesco.org/new/fileadmin/MULTIMEDIA/HQ/CLT/CLT/pdf/Arts_Edu_RegSess_Symp_Pacific_Hong.pdf (僅提供英文版本)
 香港演藝學院教育局應用學習課程《舞出新機 ─ 舞蹈藝術》：https://www.hkapa.edu/tch/study-areas/ccs/edb-applied-learning-courses/taking-a-chance-on-dance
Background of Pre-professional Dance Education in Hong Kong
Original text: Lau Tin-ming
Translator: Penelope Zhou
Youth Music and Dance Marathon 2020／Photo provided by Leisure and Cultural Services Department
How do you prove that a child has the talent to be a dancer? I have seen toddlers who were unable to talk yet started dancing when they heard music. Is that enough proof? Consult the Internet on the question of what is the best age to start professional dance training, and you will find that the general answer is the earlier the better. Where do Hong Kong’s children receive their basic dance education? Extracurricular activities, or maybe exam classes? The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts (HKAPA) currently offers university degree courses in dance, but exactly how much guidance and time is needed for a dancer to develop from an enthusiast to a bone fide professional?
I once met a girl at a high school entrance interview. She was around 15 years old with a great physique, but confessed that she had completely lost interest in dancing. She said that on top of a heavy academic workload, she was forced to take part in dance competitions and exams. It seemed to her that the only reason for her to dance was to make herself more competitive amongst her fellow students. In other words, dance had become a burden. This seems to me awfully extreme. I have also seen another extreme, where young people start to take a strong interest in dance when they’re already in Form Four. It will take them a long time just to practice the basics such as stability and coordination — let alone flexibility — and to get rid of their bad physical habits. It would be a long shot if they want to be admitted to the HKAPA’s Dance Department in just three years, not to mention all the time and effort it would take to meet the basic requirements of the HKDSE. Plus, if their family doesn’t have the financial means to afford both the test-prep classes and dance lessons, it’s difficult to say which path they would choose.
Dance is in fact part of Hong Kong's universal education framework — surprising but true! However, it is not part of arts education , which mainly focuses on visual art. Although the research and development of drama studies have been gaining good momentum in recent years, arts education in primary and secondary schools remains dominated by visual art, while dance is classified as a sport . The logic goes: dance involves bodily movement, so it should be categorized as physical education (PE). It’s not difficult to understand, then, why dance has always been considered an "extracurricular activity", and not taken seriously. Plus, even though it is technically part of physical education, few elementary schools actually include dance in their PE curriculum.
Some 30 years ago, when I was a secondary school student, dance was included in my school’s PE curriculum. However, only the female students got to learn to dance with the teacher, while the boys kept on playing ball. In order to promote basic dance education in Hong Kong, the Education Bureau has actually built an online resources depository that provides a comprehensive learning and teaching package for various types of dances , including social dance, creative dance, western folk dance, jazz dance, street dance, and Chinese dance. These materials are meant to be first studied and digested by PE teachers and then taught to students.
In the 1990s, I was studying dance with a class of prospective PE teachers at the Education University of Hong Kong (then called the Hong Kong Institute of Education). Dance was not only a course available to these prospective teachers, but it could also become something they were deeply interested in. However, under Hong Kong’s school system, even professional dancers who have graduated from the HKAPA can only be instructors for extracurricular activities. This is no surprise. The current framework is entirely dominated by the “holy trinity” of liberal arts, sciences and business education, while arts, physical and emotional education is deemed non-compulsory— in effect, an expendable afterthought.
Non-compulsory – i.e. unnecessary. Some parents force their children to practice dancing around the clock to get a few more certificates. Schools sometimes allow students to skip test-prep classes and instead rehearse their dance routines in order to win trophies at inter-school dance competitions. Of course, there are parents and schools who support dance education because of their genuine belief in self-expression and exploration. After all, dance is not just about bodily movement; every type of dance has its own unique sensibilities and training techniques. And apart from the element of performance, dance also involves creativity, communication and cooperation — things that have nothing to do with physical abilities.
At the 2002 UNESCO Pedagogical Conference on Arts Education, Christina M. Hong  talked about the arts education reform that took place in New Zealand in 2000, which made drama, dance and visual arts compulsory subjects in primary and secondary education. The dance curriculum, in particular, was designed using the local indigenous dances as a blueprint, with the purpose of enabling students to learn about local history and culture from dance as a way to promote racial integration and mutual understanding in the country. For over 10 years, the HKAPA has been running a new senior secondary school applied learning course called Taking a Chance on Dance . It is one of the few professional learning units open to all high school students in Hong Kong. Students need to register through their school to attend this 180-hour course, which is a Qualifications Framework Level 3 certificate programme. It can be studied by students in place of one elective subject under the new senior secondary education scheme (although some students choose not to withdraw from the elective subject).
The course is designed based on the content of a bachelor's degree course, allowing students to learn different dance styles and understand the basic principles of dance movement through a combination of dance, choreography and dance appreciation. At the same time, students have the opportunity to use decision-making, analytical, and problem-solving skills, and to demonstrate their cooperative abilities, sense of responsibility and positive outlook through activities such as creating and choreographing dance and organizing rehearsals. However, the development of applied learning in Hong Kong is far from ideal. Young people aspiring to become dance professionals often don’t have all the information they need; or, sometimes, their schools may not be allowed to participate in this type of learning provided by other institutions, which in turn affects the development and progress of students.
Professional training is a discipline, which means it requires ongoing, consistent learning and practice for it to be fruitful. As discussed earlier, the younger you start your dance education, the more effective it will be. If our education system does not have a sound framework, and dance training relies solely on private initiatives, what kind of choice should we make? Organizing countless competitions and exams? Or encouraging artistic creation and self-expression? In Hong Kong, a city obsessed with results and efficiency, competitions and exams are always going to have a greater appeal, since they are able to cater to the expectations of the consumers, i.e. the parents. But we should not forget that the journey of learning is not a guaranteed path to success; often, it is filled with frustration and pain. So please, parents and teachers, listen to what our children have to say.
Watch dance performances these days and you will notice that while some dance companies are very rigid in what they are looking for in terms of physical requirements, other groups have dancers with varied heights and body shapes. Today, dance is no longer confined to the traditional aesthetic criteria of ballet. In Hong Kong, dancers of wildly different disciplines are trying to break the constraints of specific training styles. For example, street dancers now have opportunities to work together with their classically-trained contemporaries both on and off the stage, and vice versa. From City Contemporary Dance Company, E-Side Dance Company, Hong Kong Ballet, Hong Kong Dance Company, to Studiodanz, Unlock Dancing Plaza, Y-Space and Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan, as well as many private dance studios, many organizations provide training for various types of dance that is available to a diversity of demographics. Even for those who have financial constraints, there is a vast treasure trove of affordable online resources. You can start your self-training by simply imitating dancers you like, and you might one day catch the eye of a dance teacher at a rehearsal or an audition. The things that make the greatest difference are your own attitude and the standards you set for yourself.
Dance is a collective artistic endeavour. For those looking for possibilities, I hope you seize the power of the present, find a teacher whose style and beliefs resonate with yours, and rigorously exercise your body and mind before you start your professional training.
 The Government of the HKSAR Education Bureau Arts Education Key Learning Area Curriculum: https://www.edb.gov.hk/en/curriculum-development/kla/arts-edu/index.html
 The Government of the HKSAR Education Bureau Physical Education Key Learning Area Curriculum: https://www.edb.gov.hk/en/curriculum-development/kla/pe/references_resource/index.html
 Hong Kong Education City Learning and Teaching Package on Various Types of Dances: https://resources.hkedcity.net/resource_detail.php?rid=214076854
 Christina M. Hong, DANCE IN THE SCHOOL CURRICULUM OF AOTEAROA NEW ZEALAND (2002). http://www.unesco.org/new/fileadmin/MULTIMEDIA/HQ/CLT/CLT/pdf/Arts_Edu_RegSess_Symp_Pacific_Hong.pdf
 The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts EDB Applied Learning Course Taking a Chance on Dance: https://www.hkapa.edu/study-areas/ccs/edb-applied-learning-courses/taking-a-chance-on-dance
An accomplished media and theatre producer and art critic, Lau has shifted the focus of his work to performing arts research and education in recent years. He has served as the Acting Principal of HKICC Lee Shau Kee School of Creativity, and as a member of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department’s Dance and Multi-Arts Panel. In 2017, he was an awardee of the Secretary for Home Affairs Commendation Scheme, commended for his distinguished contribution to the city’s cultural and arts development and his dedication to youth creative arts education.