Val Caniparoli, Choreographer of Lady of the Camellias.
攝影Photo Credit: Chris Hardy
多產的美國編舞家及芭蕾舞家卡尼柏諾烈（Val Caniparoli）剛於十月來訪香港，與香港芭蕾舞團攜手公演代表作《茶花女》（Lady of the Camellias）。《舞蹈手札》有幸邀請香港芭蕾舞團藝術總監歐美蓮（Madeleine Onne）與卡尼柏諾烈於香港文化中心後台對談，分享演出心得、與香港舞蹈員合作經歷、以及對現今年輕舞蹈員的期望。
Val Caniparoli, the prolific American choreographer and ballet dancer, was in town in October to stage his signature work, Lady of the Camellias, for the Hong Kong Ballet. dance journal/hk invited the Company’s Artistic Director, Madeleine Onne, to join Caniparoli backstage at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre to talk about the staging, their work with Hong Kong dancers, and attributes they look for in young artists today.
Madeleine Onne, Hong Kong Ballet Artistic Director.
相片由香港芭蕾舞團提供。Photo provided by Hong Kong Ballet
Val Caniparoli and San Francisco Ballet rehearsing Caniparoli's Tears.
攝影Photo Credit: Erik Tomasson
卡尼柏諾烈的首部長篇芭蕾舞劇《茶花女》編於1994年，改編自亞歷山大‧仲馬同名文學作品，故事後經原作者改作舞台劇，其後再經朱塞佩‧威爾第改編成同名歌劇《茶花女》（La Traviata）。劇目已於百老匯、倫敦城西及巴黎的劇院等地公演無數次；命薄的女主角，也經已由眾多偉大女演員演繹過，包括伊莎貝‧艾珍妮（Isabelle Adjani）、塔露拉．班克海（Tallulah Bankhead）、蒂達‧巴拉（Theda Bara）、莎拉‧伯恩哈特（Sar ah Bernhardt）、 埃莉諾拉‧杜絲（Eleonora Duse）、莉蓮‧吉許（Lillian Gish）及伊莎貝‧雨蓓（Isabelle Huppert）（與及查爾斯．路德南（Charles Ludlam）為其荒誕戲劇劇團於1973年的製作反串演出）。故事逾二十個電影改編版本中，最享負盛名，也是啟發了卡尼柏諾烈的一部，當是美國導演喬治‧庫克執導的得獎作，女主角由瑞典裔美籍傳奇女星葛麗泰．嘉寶飾演，該作品也被視為她最精彩的作品。芭蕾舞劇而言，除了卡尼柏諾烈已在全球13個舞團公演過的版本外，另有弗雷德里克‧艾斯頓（Frederick Ashton）爵士改編的《瑪格麗特與阿芒》（Marguerite and Armand），於1963年由皇家芭蕾舞團演出，主演為鲁道夫‧努里耶夫（Rudolf Nureyev）與瑪歌‧芳婷女爵士（Dame Margot Fonteyn），以及1978年由約翰‧諾伊梅爾（John Neumeier）為斯圖加特芭蕾舞團（Stuttgart Ballet）編舞的版本，由瑪西亞‧海蒂（Marcia Haydée）主演。
Choreographed in 1994, the ballet, Caniparoli’s first full-length work, adapts the famous story by Alexandre Dumas, fils that the author later successfully adapted for the stage and Giuseppe Verdi used as the basis for the opera La Traviata. Countless productions of the play have been performed on Broadway, the West End, and Parisian stages, with some of the greatest dramatic actresses of all times portraying the doomed main character, Marguerite, including Isabelle Adjani, Tallulah Bankhead, Theda Bara, Sarah Bernhardt, Eleonora Duse, Lillian Gish, and Isabelle Huppert (and Charles Ludlam in drag for his Ridiculous Theatrical Company production in 1973). Among the more than 20 film versions, perhaps the most famous, and Caniparoli’s inspiration, is American director George Cukor’s award-winning film for which he cast the transcendent Swedish-American actress Greta Garbo in the lead role that many consider her finest performance. In ballet, besides Caniparoli’s version, which he has staged for 13 companies internationally, Sir Frederick Ashton adapted the story for his Marguerite and Armand in 1963 for Rudolf Nureyev and Dame Margot Fonteyn at the Royal Ballet and John Neumeier choreographed it for Marcia Haydée at the Stuttgart Ballet in 1978.
Lady of the Camellias (2016) presented by Hong Kong Ballet,
Choreographer: Val Caniparoli, Dancers: (From left) Li Lin, Dong Rui-xue, Shen Jie and Hong Kong Ballet Dancers.
攝影Photo Credit: Keith Hiro
For audiences, Lady of the Camellias offers a poignant tale of a bad girl turned good by her love for a good man and her willingness to sacrifice her own happiness for his future happiness. It also gives us the chance to shed a cathartic tear or two with its heartbreaking ending. For actors and dancers, the story’s draw is in its meaty acting roles, especially for the principals. During her tenure as Artistic Director, Onne has carefully selected works for the company. In addition to finding ballets whose narratives audiences can connect to and that will help build the Company’s brand, she has gone after pieces that push the company’s dancers to build on their already considerable skills and artistry. One area that she identified early on for development was the dancers’ acting, “Acting and the characters, that’s something that I started from the very beginning [of my time with the Hong Kong Ballet] to talk about why, why do they do all these steps”. For Caniparoli, “It’s really important to develop the characterizations. It’s one thing to learn the steps, but I have a lot of motivation behind those steps”.
Caniparoli isn’t rigid about how the dancers develop their characters, “I like different interpretations of these roles, I don’t dictate you have to do it ‘this way’. I didn’t like that as a dancer when a choreographer or director said ‘This is the way it is’ without any input. I love dancer input, and they’ve [Hong Kong Ballet dancers] been great about that. There are three casts, but I do not want them to do it the same. Of course, the steps are there, but they have to make it [the role] their own, they have to feel it in their own way. It’s important they take ownership of those roles”.
Both Onne and Caniparoli attribute, to a certain degree, their own successes to their acting ability. Onne recounts, “I was lucky. I was eighteen, and Jiří Kylián came to Stockholm. He took me out of the corps de ballet when we did his Stoolgame, and the year after they needed a very young Juliet [for Romeo and Juliet], and then I did Juliet. After that it was like ‘Boom!’ It was timing. I was there at the right time, they needed a very young girl and I was . . . my strength was in acting, I did not do my legs six o’clock sharp. But I could fool the audience to realize that they didn’t need a six o’clock sharp; I could give them something else”. Caniparoli is frank about how he got into the San Francisco Ballet Company, “I was hired because I did those character roles. I was in the [San Francisco Ballet] School for only a year and half, max. [While still in the School] they would use me to do the character roles. The reason I’m still in the company as a full-time dancer [he is sixty-five], is because I’m doing the same roles I did when I was twenty-two”.
《Connotations》（1989） ，編舞：卡尼柏諾烈，舞者：Christopher Boatwright 、 Evelyn Cisneros。
Connotations (1989), Choreographer: Val Caniparoli, Dancers: Christopher Boatwright and Evelyn Cisneros.
Photo provided by San Francisco Ballet.
In addition to expanding the dancers’ acting skills, Onne chose Lady of the Camellias for another quality that she hoped would make them more versatile, “The speed of the steps – because American technique is quite fast compared to the European and the Russian”. Versatility is just one of the characteristics that both Onne and Caniparoli consider important for dancers to have if they are to succeed. Caniparoli notes “Some of the most successful students coming up, they’ve been interested in more than just dance. They are more all-rounded.” Onne recalls her training at the Royal Swedish Ballet School, “We had classical ballet every day, and then we had tap dance, jazz, Graham technique, improvisation, Spanish, character, we did acrobatics, we had ballroom dancing. We got everything, and music of course. And we sang in operas – from the age of nine, I was singing in operas, because we had to do the children’s roles. I really got this fabulous education that helped a lot, and somehow it taught us to search for more.”
Caniparoli also considers music an important ingredient in a dancer’s education, and he is censorious of those who lack it, “I don’t understand when choreographers don’t know how to read music and have no interest in reading music. [With] young choreographers now [there is a] trend of pasting music. As if [they are using it] as wallpaper, and [having] no regard for the score itself. I just think music is so important. But it also can be hindrance, if you follow it too much, it doesn't work. I did probably a year of that before I realized ‘Wow you’re mimicking it too much’. So, at some point, you have to ignore it. You know the big big score and everything arrgghhh. Sometimes one person walking down stage with the largest part of the music. You don’t have a hundred people in unison running across the stage to match that music. Sometimes being opposite [of that], but you have to know that and not ignore it. And that’s, I think, very, very valuable”.
For Onne, “Music is essential. Sometimes, when I go to competitions, all the artistic directors, we’re sitting there saying ‘How is it possible? How can they even try to dance this variation without listening to the music?’ We all are amazed that the coaches and teachers are not focusing on music. Because if they are out of the music, I can’t watch! I can’t watch! It’s horrible! I always try to say to the dancers, feel like your body is singing the music, you are part of it. If you really go with it, it is going to help you”. When she arrived at the Hong Kong Ballet seven-and-a-half years ago, the first thing Onne did was hire a full-time pianist to play the piano reductions of music for all rehearsals. Before that the Company only had a pianist for the morning maintenance class. With a pianist for rehearsals, dancers could learn to work with the often-variable tempi and different interpretations that are part of live performance rather than just working to taped music – where tempi and interpretation never change. “In most other places, we are spoiled with pianists . . . more than one. In Stockholm, we had one who only played class, and then we had two or three for repertoire”. Caniparoli adds, “In San Francisco, we have four or five, because the rep[ertoire] is huge, it’s like ten studios going [with rehearsals at the same time]”.
Val Caniparoli in Helgi Tomasson's Nutcracker.
攝影Photo Credit: Erik Tomasson
兩人均認為，留駐一個團體並與之保持長久聯繫，可以為藝術家提供穩定的環境去成長。歐美蓮9歲便加入瑞典皇家芭蕾舞學院，一待就三十九年；而卡尼柏諾烈則在三藩市芭蕾舞團工作了超過四十年 — 他們都同意，留在同一個地方並不保證成功。另一方面，留住一些投放了心力栽培的舞蹈員，對保持舞團穩健十分重要。卡尼柏諾烈的做法是：「將世上主要的編舞家都帶進舞團。這十分重要，因為你要為舞蹈員帶來挑戰。同時，也要保持多元化 — 很多舞蹈員都想跳《天鵝湖》，但也有人想跳威廉‧科西（William Forsythe）的作品。均衡地選取作品才能留住舞蹈員，也能保持他們的警覺性與生命力。」而歐美蓮則思量現今年輕舞蹈員四處闖蕩的習慣。「處處都有不同的機會，不是很好嗎？有些舞蹈員希望與編舞家建立關係，有些則喜歡留在一處能夠碰上不同編舞家的地方。」
While both feel that long-term associations with ‘home’ organizations provided them with stability to grow - Onne spent thirty-nine years at the Royal Swedish Ballet, she entered the School as a nine-year-old, and Caniparoli has been with the San Francisco Ballet for more than forty years – both agree, staying in one place isn’t a guarantee of success. On the other hand, keeping dancers in whom you’ve invested time developing potential is important for a Company’s well-being. For Caniparoli the way to do that is “Bringing in the major choreographers of the world. I think that’s crucial. You want to challenge them. And be diverse – a lot of dancers want to do the Swan Lakes, but they also want to do [works by William] Forsythe. You’ve got to balance the program to keep those dancers and keep them alert and vital.” Onne is philosophical about the habit young dancers today have of moving around, “But isn’t the great thing that there are different possibilities? Some dancers want to build up a relationship with the choreographer, and others want to be in a place where they meet different choreographers.”
When asked to identify the key to their successes in Ballet, Caniparoli chuckles “We both didn’t have extensions!” Onne chimes in “And we both still made it. We’re still here! We’re stubborn. Do you know what it is? I think we are both passionate, and we’re willing to work for it. I think that took us a long way”.
is a former dancer and the retired Associate Dean of Dance, Head of Modern Dance, and Dean of Graduate Education at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. He is the editor of dance journal/hk.