相片由 維文安娜．杜蘭緹 提供。
Photo provided by Viviana Durante.
Viviana Durante, one of the greatest dramatic ballerinas of her generation, was in Hong Kong in August as one of the judges for the Hong Kong Ballet Group’s Stars Award 2016. She talked to dance journal/hk about emotion versus athleticism and where ballet is headed today.
杜蘭緹出生於意大利，於十歲時入讀英國皇家芭蕾舞學校，畢業後加入皇家芭蕾舞團。二十歲那年，舞團正上演《天鵝湖》（Swan Lake ）。當時出演黑白天鵝奥德蒂/奧狄莉（Odette/ Odile ）的舞者因傷離場，由在沒有綵排過的下杜蘭緹頂替演出。翌年，她成為了皇家芭蕾舞團史上最年輕的首席芭蕾舞員，並憑著其精湛舞藝、感召力及富戲劇性的舞風很快便成為舞評家、編舞家和廣大觀眾的寵兒。其中，新創角色的優秀演繹包括麥美倫（Kenneth MacMillan）的最後兩個作品及賓特利（David Bintley）、麥葛萊格（Wayne McGregor） 、艾胥雷（Page Ashley）的創作。1999年，她再度成為芭蕾舞界的焦點。當時她與新拍檔排練《曼儂》（Manon）時發生衝突，並沒跟隨舞團該次的日本巡演。這次風波掀起大眾輿論 ，並令她與皇家芭蕾舞團的關系添上難以修補的缺口。兩年後，杜蘭緹離開舞團，遠赴東京加盟同樣是前皇家芭蕾舞團員的熊川哲也（Tetsuya Kumakawa）創立的K-Ballet。同期，她亦遊走於米蘭史卡拉歌劇院芭蕾舞團（La Scala） 和美國芭蕾舞劇團（American Ballet Theatre）。杜蘭緹仍不斷探索，踏足過劇場、電影，當過模特兒、編舞，甚至在日本電視廣告中也會看到她的身影。數年前，她回到英國，邂逅英國作家克里夫（Nigel Cliff），誕下現年四歲的兒子奧蘭多（Orlando）。
Born in Italy, Durante moved to London aged 10 to study at the Lower School of the Royal Ballet School , White Lodge, and joined the company on graduation. At 20 she made headlines when the ballerina dancing Odette/Odile injured herself halfway through Swan Lake and Durante (who hadn’t even rehearsed the role) took over and finished the show. At 21 she became the company’s youngest ever principal and a favourite with critics, choreographers, and audiences for her virtuosity, charisma, and above all, her dramatic power. One of the finest interpreters of the Kenneth MacMillan repertoire, she created roles in his last two ballets as well as in work by the likes of David Bintley, Ashley Page, and Wayne McGregor. In 1999, Durante made headlines again, this time for less happy reasons, when she was dropped from a tour of Japan after conflicts arose while rehearsing Manon with a new partner. The ensuing welter of highly publicized accusations and counter-accusations caused a rift with the company that never healed fully. Two years later she left for Tokyo to join K-Ballet, newly set up by another Royal Ballet escapee, Tetsuya Kumakawa, and subsequently divided her career between K-Ballet, La Scala, and American Ballet Theatre. Always ready to try something new, Durante has acted on stage and screen, modeled, choreographed, and, in Japan, even appeared in TV commercials. Returning to London a few years ago, she met and married British author Nigel Cliff with whom she has a four-year-old son, Orlando.
It’s about ‘being a dancer’, it’s not ‘I do dancing’.There’s a difference in that and you have to embrace that if that’s what you love."
攝影：KY Cheng 片由南華早報提供
Photo Credit: KY Cheng. Photo provided by South China Morning Post
Petite, chic, and lively with a down to earth sense of humour, Durante’s intelligence and enquiring mind are immediately apparent talking to her. Surprisingly, this is her first ever visit to Hong Kong. “I was asked to dance here many times but it never worked out. So I’m very happy to be here - what a great chance to explore and see the dancers.” All she’d seen so far of the local students taking part in the Stars Award was a masterclass but she’d already put her finger on some characteristic local strengths and weaknesses. “Everybody is so committed and so focused. You can hear a pin drop, everybody is so into it and really listening to the teacher.” However, “It looks as if there’s a lack of confidence from what I saw today, but I think that’s normal, it’s their first class in front of us.”
Taking part in competitions is valuable because “First of all, it teaches you how to command stress... Somehow, the show must go on - you get a hint of that. And then the fact that it makes you competitive, which is not a bad thing to be. Especially technically, it can make you better. It pushes you, it lifts the level where you might be at, when you see somebody else and you try to be like that.”
談到比賽經驗，杜蘭緹年輕時在瑞士洛桑國際芭蕾舞大賽（Prix de Lausanne，下稱洛桑）中贏得金牌，後來更擔任大賽的評審。談及洛桑與超新星(*見 18－5香港夏日舞動)的水平固然不同，杜蘭緹說：「評審並不等於批評，我的責任是協助他們進步和成長。」她在頒獎禮中寄語一眾參賽者說：「你們都是冠軍！」可見她對每位參賽者的熱切鼓勵。
The level of participants at the Stars Award (*See 18-5 Issue SUMMERTIME) may have been different from the Prix de Lausanne where Durante adjudicated earlier this year (and was herself a gold medalist). However, as she said, “We’re not here to judge them, we’re here to help them go further” and her speech at the closing ceremony (“You are all winners”) was warm and encouraging.
A major problem for Hong Kong ballet students is that the only professional training, at the Academy for Performing Arts, doesn’t start until an age when dancers elsewhere are already graduating from vocational schools. Durante confirms that it’s crucial, especially for girls, to start full-time training earlier. “It’s like being a musician; you have to practice every day. You have to love it. It becomes your life. Then the achievement comes naturally.”
That said, practicing in itself is not enough: “It’s about ‘being a dancer’, it’s not ‘I do dancing’. There’s a difference in that and you have to embrace that if that’s what you love.” It was that love for dance that enabled a homesick ten-year-old Durante to cope with the “harsh” experience of being at a boarding school where she didn’t even speak the language.
What has changed in the ballet world since Durante began her career? “People are looking after their bodies a lot more, they are treated more like athletes, because we do use our bodies - you do wild things with your body! That’s all amazingly good.” The way that classical ballet and contemporary dance are “merging together” is “A great idea, you can create even more, explore even more.”
“You can’t just practice the solo technically and think that [the other side] will just come on stage. It won’t.”
Durante as MacMillian’s Anastasia (1996).
攝影Photo Credit: 英國皇家芭蕾舞團The Royal Ballet
At the same time, she’s concerned that the increased emphasis on athleticism and modern choreography may lead dancers to neglect other aspects of their art. “We must not lose who we are as classical dancers. You are an artist after all. That must not be lost, otherwise you do end up being just an athlete. You have to practice the telling of the story, the emotional side of something, just as much as you practice your tendus every day.”
To do work by someone like Wayne McGregor, working on your fitness is essential: “Otherwise you’ll hurt yourself because he’s so technically demanding… he moves you in such an amazing way.” While McGregor is “a wonderful choreographer” and Durante appreciates that it’s easy for audiences to relate to his work in an age of i-phones and video games, “When I go to the theatre, I really want to see a great story that transports me.” She believes this is where classical ballet can go further and take audiences to a higher plane by offering “Something that makes you cry and brings out the most inner emotion that you have.”
Durante returns frequently to the importance of expressing emotion. As a young dancer she was rehearsed by Margot Fonteyn in The Sleeping Beauty. “All she was concerned about was my practicing who I was, knowing who I was before I came on to the stage. When I came down those steps, she wanted me to practice the fact that I was actually arriving at my 16th birthday party. She said, “You have to practice that emotion. I want to see that you’re happy.”
「傳承」對芭蕾舞來說非常重要。杜蘭緹特別感恩曾與琳．西摩（Lynn Seymour）在《我的女主角》合作演出由麥美倫（Kenneth MacMillan ）創作的角色Seymour。「對我而言，這就似在接觸芭蕾的根源。身為一個藝術家，努力去保留作品的歷史，包括其創作時的風格及原因。」
The tradition of each generation of dancers coaching the next is vital for the continuity of ballet. Durante is particularly grateful to have worked with Lynn Seymour (My heroine!) on the roles Seymour created for Kenneth MacMillan. “For me, it was like being in touch with the source of something. It adds to you as an artist and at the same time you preserve the style of when it was made, why it was made - the history of it.”
In September Durante herself will be coaching four Royal Ballet ballerinas in one of her signature roles, MacMillan’s Anastasia. She’s been asked to focus on bringing out the drama and for the tragic third act, plans to do an exercise Seymour did with her - making the dancers take off their pointe shoes and act the role before they dance it. “You can’t just practice the solo technically and think that [the other side] will just come on stage. It won’t.” She would like students to do an acting class once a week using their voices. “I know we do something which is silent, we don’t use sound. But it’s only by using sound that you can find that inner silence.”
For Durante, it was the emotional satisfaction of live performance that she found most fulfilling. “I love being on stage. I still do, I miss it. If the right thing came up (without fouettés and things like that!) I would certainly go for it. It’s like taking drugs - I’ve never taken drugs but I can imagine it’s like that. It’s an addiction of feeling that only an audience can give you.”
Durante (third from right) adjudicating at the Hong Kong Ballet Group Stars Award 2016.
攝影Photo Credit: Tong Luk
However, the joy of performing isn’t always enough. A note of regret creeps in when Durante talks about the years she spent guesting with different companies after leaving the Royal Ballet. Always being an outsider, despite the respect with which she was treated and the adulation of audiences, was a lonely experience. “I felt homeless… I sort of lost myself a little bit. I was only finding myself on stage and doing too much of that is not very healthy.” While it’s good to perform elsewhere from time to time, she would advise dancers to be based at one company. “It gives you an identity and it gives you a home.”
Today, married, and a mother, Durante’s clearly in a much happier place and busy embarking on a new phase of her career. She has just completed the Royal Ballet School Diploma of Dance Teaching and the Trinity College Diploma in Dance Teaching and Learning - astoundingly, she did them both at the same time: “I was writing my essays at 2 o’clock in the morning after putting my little one to sleep!”
Her ultimate goal is to direct a school or a company and following her academic studies, she’s now learning about management by shadowing the artistic directors of London’s South Bank and Barbican. Durante believes that to succeed in anything, you need to be prepared: “When I started in the company, I worked myself up to be a principal and I learnt by doing roles and doing things. I wanted to learn… I am curious, anyway, I like to know things!”
Durante as Odette in Swan Lake (2003).
攝影Photo Credit: K-Ballet Company
Durante performed in Rhapsody (1980)
Photo provided by interviewee.
Durante in Kenneth MacMillan’s Manon (1974).
攝影Photo Credit: 英國皇家芭蕾舞團The Royal Ballet