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[中][ENG] 踢躂常新 Dorrance & Young: Keeping It Fresh

Works & Process Rotunda Project: Michelle Dorrance with Nicholas Van Young, 16 February 2017, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Rotunda.

Photo: Matthew Murphy

 

米雪﹒多蘭斯

 

當你的雙親分別是前艾略特﹒費爾德美國舞團舞蹈員兼著名教堂山芭蕾舞學校的創辦人蜜莉絲﹒加里﹒多蘭斯(M’Liss Gary Dorrance),以及獲推選而名列美國國家足球名人堂、帶領美國女足國家隊奪得1991年世界盃的教練安遜﹒多蘭斯(Anson Dorrance),你該如何擺脫他們的光環呢?米雪﹒多蘭斯用雙腳踢與踏。2011年,她憑著為自己的舞團—多蘭斯舞團首個作品《Remember Jimmy》及《Three to One》取下的貝絲獎,助她綻露光芒。獎項表揚她「衝破我們對踏躂舞的想像」。引文《紐約時報》恰切的描述:「自30年代起,對哈林區居民而言,紐約市傳奇的阿波羅劇院便是觀眾能夠成就或摧毀表演事業的社區會堂」*。踏躂舞的發展中,恐怕沒有比阿波羅劇院更重要的場地;此處是最偉大的踏躂舞者與創造者的舞台。

 

繼2011年的貝絲獎後,多蘭斯於2012年再獲Field舞蹈獎及嘉麗斯王妃獎。2013年,她再奪雅各之枕舞蹈獎,除25,000美元無附帶條件獎金外,另獲同額資金資助她為下季雅各之枕舞蹈節製作新作品。於是,她與尼古拉斯﹒范揚聯手創作出 《電音踢躂:初試驗》(ETM: The Initial Approach),為本年度香港藝術節節目《電音踢躂》的前身。至2014年,她獲得阿爾博特藝術獎,並取得其75,000美元無附帶條件獎金;另與德瑞克﹒葛倫特(Derick K.Grant)和森布利﹒愛德華斯(Sumbry-Edwards)共同演出及共同編舞《藍調計劃》(The Blues Project),再獲貝絲獎。《紐約時報》舞評人阿利斯泰爾.麥考里(Alastair Macaulay)以「輝煌」稱讚此作品。或者她至今取得的最大成就當屬2015年獲取有「天才獎項」之稱的麥克阿瑟基金會獎,獎項於未來五年將為她提供總共625,000美元的資助。

 

自2011年成立舞團起,在5年內贏取包括麥克阿瑟基金會獎在內,美國7個最主要的表演藝術獎項,看似平步青雲。不過,對現年37歲的多蘭斯而言,這是她自少年時代接受專業舞蹈訓練以來,廿多年努力經營的成果。期間,她曾於不同舞團擔任專業舞者,包括沙維安﹒高化的TiDii、在外百老匯工作4年,以及參演大受歡迎的北美及世界巡迴演出節目《STOMP》。

 

米雪﹒多蘭斯於雅各之枕舞蹈節《藍調計劃》演出。
The Blues Project Michelle Dorrance performing at the Jacob's Pillow Festival. 攝 Photo: Christopher Duggan

 

Michelle Dorrance

 

When your mother is former Eliot Feld American Ballet Company dancer and founder of the prestigious Ballet School of Chapel Hill, M’Liss Gary Dorrance, and your father is American National Soccer Hall of Fame inductee and coach of the 1991 USA Women’s Soccer World Cup Championship, Anson Dorrance, how do you manage to move out of their high-profile shadow? Michelle Dorrance tap dances. Winning a 2011 Bessie Award for her choreography of Remembering Jimmy and Three to One in the debut production of her company, Dorrance Dance, also helped. Fittingly, she received her award “for blasting open our notions about tap”, as the citation read, at New York City’s legendary Apollo Theater that, from the 1930s, for Harlem residents, was “the neighborhood social hall where the audience had the power to make or break careers”*.  There’s probably no theater as important to tap’s development and history as the Apollo; tap’s greatest artists and innovators danced on its stage.

 

Following her 2011 Bessie win, in 2012, Dorrance was a Field Dance Fund Recipient and a Princess Grace Award winner. She received the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award in 2013, which came with an unrestricted US$25,000 prize plus another US$25,000 to produce a new work for the next season’s Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. The work she made, in collaboration with Nicholas Van Young, was ETM: The Initial Approach, the predecessor of this year’s Hong Kong Arts Festival ETM: Double Down. In 2014, she received the Alpert Award that came with an unrestricted US$75,000 and she won her second Bessie (with Derick K. Grant and Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards as co-stars and co-choreographers) for The Blues Project. The New York Times dance critic, Alastair Macaulay, proclaimed the dance, “Entirely glorious”. Perhaps her biggest prize so far is the 2015 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, the so-called ‘genius’ award that comes with a stipend of US$625,000 over five years.

 

From starting a company in 2011 to winning seven of the USA’s most prominent performing arts awards including the MacArthur in five years may seem like a meteoric rise, but for Dorrance, who started dancing professionally in her teens and is now 37, it’s been a trajectory of more than twenty years of hard work. Along the way, she’s danced professionally in a slew of companies including Savion Glover’s group TiDii and did a four-year stint in the off-Broadway and North American and International tours of the mega-hit STOMP.

尼古拉斯﹒范揚於《電音踢躂:初試驗》的演出。Nicholas Van Young performing in ETM: The initial approach.

攝 Photo: Christopher Duggan

 

尼古拉斯﹒范揚

 

尼古拉斯﹒范揚與多蘭斯為《電音踢躂》聯合編舞,范揚同時為節目的踢躂器材設計師。他自16歲加入德州奧斯丁Tapestry舞團12年。遷往紐約市後,范揚與多個踢躂舞團合作,並擔任紐約及巡迴舞團《STOMP》的主要舞者9年,並擔任其北美巡迴的綵排指導。范揚是身體敲擊樂大師,《紐約時報》形容他在多蘭斯舞團《Sound Space》中的敲擊、拍打、身體敲擊樂獨奏為「精藝之湛」。同時,他在傳統敲擊樂造詣亦深,為紐約獨立搖滾樂隊Darwin Deez的鼓手。

 

踢躂舞者通常於木製踏板上跳舞,用踢躂鞋在板上敲出清脆的聲音。由於范揚是音樂家,亦擁有電子舞蹈音樂背景,並對製作電子聲音的軟件及硬件進行了研究,他累積了大量有關運用接觸式傳聲器、結他腳踏、音效、電子鼓墊及其他器材的知識與技巧。范揚為《電音踢躂》製作的踏板,與普通踏板對比,猶如火箭與紙飛機的分別。配合特製踏板配合小巧的遙控,讓舞者和演奏者一邊演出,一邊錄下並重播自己的節奏和音樂段落,累積並控制這些片段,為舞蹈創造動人心弦的聲音環境,將表演中令人興奮的踢躂舞、霹靂舞動作,聲樂,身體及傳統敲擊樂,以及弦樂和鍵盤的樂器配置,化作今天舞壇與劇場中,真正獨特而煥然一新的創作。

 

 

Nicholas Van Young

 

Nicholas Van Young, Dorrance’s co-choreographer and the Tap Instrument Designer for ETM: Double Down, started dancing professionally at the age of sixteen in Texas with Austin’s multiform Tapestry Dance Company, where he spent twelve years. Moving to New York City, Young danced with several tap companies and spent nine years as lead dancer in both the New York and touring companies of STOMP and was its rehearsal director for the American tour. Young is a master body percussionist – the New York Times called his tapping, slapping, clapping, clicking, body percussion solo in Dorrance’s Sound Space “The height of virtuosity”. He’s an accomplished percussionist on traditional instruments as well and was a drummer for New York indie-rock band Darwin Deez.

 

Tap dancers frequently use wooden tap squares to dance on so they can get the clear crisp sound of the tap shoe striking it. Because of his background as a musician involved in the electronic dance music scene together with his research on the hardware and software used in electronic sound creation, Young has amassed a great deal of knowledge and skills with things such as contact microphones, guitar pedals, sound effects, drum pads, and the like. The tap squares he created for ETM: Double Down are to the old wooden tap squares as rocket ships are to paper airplanes. Using them in combination with small hand-held remote controlled devices allowing dancers and musicians to record and create loops of their rhythmic and musical phrases as they perform them that can then be accumulated and manipulated and played back live, gives the dance a breathtaking sound environment that transforms its exhilarating tap dancing, B-girl routines, vocals, body and traditional percussion, and string and keyboard instrumentation into something truly unique and one of the freshest things in dance and theater today.

 

 

尼古拉斯.范揚亦是個敲擊樂手。Nicholas Van Young is also a percussionist.

攝 Photo: Matthew Murphy

 

米雪﹒多蘭斯與尼古拉斯﹒范揚。

Michelle Dorrance & Nicholas Van Young. Works & Process Rotunda Project at Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Rotunda.

攝 Photo: Matthew Murphy

 

 

真誠的追隨者

 

對於多蘭斯和范揚,踢躂舞並不只是一種專業。他們是踢躂舞的真誠的追隨者與傳道者,身體力行以體現其歷史,如其他前人及同行者一樣,推動此藝術形式的視野。我以前從未見過像他們所做的事。這就像1930至1950年代的踢躂舞;當時,所有大樂隊夜總會與舞台表演都有踢躂舞,及特色踢躂舞環節。然而,他們現在做的非為呼應前人,而是創造一種全新的藝術形式,融匯大樂隊與踢躂舞的特色,歷史和故事,在從內在與情感的層面與我們溝通;同時,在認知的層面,以多元節奏與切分音吸引我們。

 

在舞台工作人員的晚餐小休息間,以及在他們在藝術節第二場演出與在文化中心的踢躂舞工作坊之間的空檔,多蘭斯和范揚與我坐在演藝學院歌劇院的台板上暢談。多蘭斯能量滿滿,急促的語調連結著經驗、文化與教育的想法與理論中,加插一段段的踢躂舞歷史。她的語速如同她的舞步般快而密集。相對多蘭斯的不羈、跳脫的態勢,范揚雖然是個大個子,但就更悠然自得與隨和,在講起自己工作時,卻帶著令人信服的肯定。

 

True Believers

 

For Dorrance and Young, tap dance is more than a profession.  They are true believers, missionaries of tap, embodiments of its history, and visionaries of the form as they, and others like them have pushed it, and are pushing it, to become. I’ve never seen anything quite like what they’re doing before. It resonates with what was going on in tap dance in the 1930s to 1950s, when every big band nightclub and stage show included tap dance and specialty tap dance acts. But rather than being an echo, what they’re doing is more like a brand-new art form, a merging of the big band and the tap dancing with its characters and their histories and stories communicating with us on the visceral and emotional levels while at the same time engaging us intellectually with polyrhythm and syncopation.

 

While the stage crew were taking their dinner break and during a breather between a tap workshop at the Cultural Center and before their second show for the Festival, Dorrance and Young sat down with me on the APA’s Lyric stage and talked. Dorrance is high energy, relating her experiences in rapid-fire, interspersing ideas and theories about culture and education with snippets of tap history. She talks as densely and as fast as her feet move when dancing.  In contrast to Dorrance’s gangly, scrappy physicality, Young, who is physically a big guy, is more laid back, easy going, but with compelling sureness when talking about his work.

踢躂舞的歷史真正反映實踐美國民主理想中最美麗的部份,是人類經驗中最理想的可能性。The history of tap dance really reflects the history of, what I think, is the most beautiful part of our realizing the American ideal of democracy, the ideal of what human experience can possibly be.

Works & Process Rotunda Project at Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Rotunda.

攝 Photo: Matthew Murphy

 

民主的化身

 

多蘭斯毫不忌諱地說她認為學術界忽略了踢躂舞在美國文化的重要性。踢躂舞沿自鼓樂、舞蹈、由黑奴帶入美國身體敲擊樂與及愛爾蘭舞蹈。她解釋道:「不論是作為一段文化史,或是一種藝術形式,踢躂舞在美國高等教育界別中都沒有被真正體現出來。慶幸的是我們找到一些課程,不論舞蹈課程、歷史課程,或是美國研究課程,都重視這種藝術形式的歷史,視為美國文化底蘊無可否認的一個定義。它是一個內在而沉痛的真實例子,顯示文化的融合,這也顯然是美國的定義。這也是十分美國的藝術形式—它是即興創作,也與爵士樂傳統淵源甚深,它既先於爵士樂,又是爵士樂的一部份,甚至可能是這種音樂的起動者。我認為,踢躂舞的歷史真正反映實踐美國民主理想中最美麗的部份,是人類經驗中最理想的可能性。」

 

踢躂舞的知識與技巧,透過踢躂舞節、踢躂舞特訓營,以及私人舞蹈教室等形式,由老師傳遞予學生。多蘭斯形容:「我們接收到那些沉痛的故事,嫻熟的技巧,一種技術中寬廣與深厚的微妙與精巧,以及它的情感與文化形式。我們可做的是將它傳承下去。它保持著口耳相傳形式......因為這不被(學術界)接納。」舞團成立之初,多蘭斯和范揚都是這些踢躂舞節和特訓營的常客。今天,作為老師,他們繼續傳承所學。多蘭斯講起她的老師時,就十足是個踢躂舞歷史人物表,而這些老師對她和同輩人的影響,她表示:「我們受這些大師的影響,他們是康尼﹒可里斯(Honi Coles),裘里‧艾肯斯(Cholly Atkins), 尼古拉斯兄弟(Nicholas Brothers), 康德斯兄弟(the Condos Brothers);有部份在我們的時代仍在世,像亨利‧里唐(Henry LeTang)也是優秀的編舞家;(Buster Brown)和吉米﹒斯萊德(Jimmy Slyde)是風格大師,而潔妮﹒里岡恩(Jeni LeGon)則以技術著名。這些人除了對我們有深遠影響,也影響了比我們更早的舞者,例如黛安﹒渥克(Dianne Walker), 泰德﹒列維(Ted Levy),塞翁·格洛文(Savion Glover),甚至 格雷戈里·海因斯(Gregory Hines)。」

 

對多蘭斯而言,她在踢躂舞中看見的民主理想,不僅體現於糅合來自非洲、愛爾蘭及其他歐洲傳統的獨特舞步與風格,更反映教學方法上。從大師的經驗學習,部份是70及80年代的大師,當時多蘭斯和范揚仍是青少年。於多蘭斯而言,這些大師富有經驗和故事,是典範和民主意念的化身。即使他們的教法比較老土,但他們邀請後輩進入自己的世界,平等對待後輩。她憶述:「他們嘲弄我們說,『左腳俐落一些,輕鬆一點』,同時他們會給你講故事,說:『當年我和Cab Calloway一起巡迴演出......』,他們會在課堂上把你單獨叫出來,讓你難堪死了,但這也是極好的讚賞......他(范揚)的導師,艾西亞﹒格雷(Acia Grey),和我的導師金﹒米德勒(Gene Medler),就是這樣好的老師,他們接受的教育是同出一徹,他們不害怕青出於藍。他們會對你說:『來吧,若你能夠比我更先做到,就證明給我看吧!』」

 

Works & Process Rotunda Project at Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Rotunda.

攝 Photo: Matthew Murphy

 

Democracy Embodied

 

Dorrance is outspoken in her views about how academia has overlooked the importance of tap dance in American culture. Describing its roots among other things from the drumming, dancing, and body percussive rhythms brought to America by African slaves and the step dancing introduced by Irish immigrants.  She explains, “Tap dance, as a cultural history and as a form is not truly embodied inside institutions of higher learning in the United States. We are lucky to find a program, whether it is a dance program, a history program, or an American Studies program that embraces the history of this particular art form as a part of what is undeniably a definition of the fabric of American culture. . . It’s a visceral and poignant physical example of the blending of cultures that literally defines America. It’s such an American form – it’s an improvisational form, it also has a lot to do with the jazz tradition, which it precedes, but is also a part of, and possibly an instigator for. The history of tap dance really reflects the history of, what I think, is the most beautiful part of our realizing the American ideal of democracy, the ideal of what human experience can possibly be.”

 

Tap dance knowledge and skills are passed on from teacher to student at tap dance festivals, intensive tap camps, and in private dance studios where, as Dorrance tells it, “We were handed these really poignant stories, and masterful tools and a great breadth and depth of subtlety and nuance inside a technical form but also an emotional and cultural form and all we can do is to continue to pass that down. It remains an oral form because . . . it is not embraced [in academia].” During their formative years, both Dorrance and Young were regular attendees at these festivals and intensives. Today, as teachers, they continue to pass on what they learned.  She talks about her teachers, a veritable who’s who of tap dance history, and their impact on her contemporaries and her, “We have been influenced by these great masters, namely Honi Coles, Cholly Atkins, the Nicholas Brothers, the Condos Brothers; those who were alive around our time, Henry LeTang, great choreographers as well, Buster Brown, Jimmy Slyde, master stylists and technicians, Jeni LeGon. These folks literally had a huge influence on us, and on folks [who came] before us [such as] Dianne Walker, Ted Levy, Savion Glover, even Gregory Hines.”


For Dorrance, the democratic ideal she sees in tap is not only embodied in steps and styles that borrow from African, Irish, and other European traditions and fuse them into something unique, but is also reflected in the teaching of tap.  The experience of learning from masters, some of whom were in their 70s and 80s when she and Young were adolescents – masters, who had had rich and storied experiences – epitomizes, for Dorrance, its embodiment of democratic ideas. Even though they maintained an “old school” way of teaching, they invited these kids into their world and put them on an equal footing with them. She recalls them “razzing us and saying, ‘clean up your left foot and shuffle’, and in the meantime, ‘let me tell you a story, about when me and Cab Calloway were on a tour’. . .They would call you out personally in the middle of a class and embarrass the shit out of you, but that was a great compliment. . . His [Young’s] mentor, Acia Gray, and my mentor, Gene Medler, were these great teachers that sought the same education and they weren’t the kind of teachers that wanted to be better than their students. They would say ‘Come on then, show me if you get it before I do’”.

我們接收到那些沉痛的故事,嫻熟的技巧,一種技術中寬廣與深厚的微妙與精巧,以及它的情感與文化形式。我們可做的是將它傳承下去。

We were handed these really poignant stories, and masterful tools and a great breadth and depth of subtlety and nuance inside a technical form but also an emotional and cultural form and all we can do is to continue to pass that down.

 

多蘭斯舞團的製作《電音踢躂》。Dorrance Dance’s production ETM: Double Down.

攝 Photo: Matthew Murphy

 

國際化

 

多蘭斯與范揚均在美國及全球教授踢躂舞。來港演出前,范揚剛於日本教授完一個短期課程,他還在巴西教學。他們都在斯德哥爾摩踢躂舞節教學。當他們來到一處新地方,或在一年左右之後回到同一處地方,他們總能說出誰在他們之前,或他們離開期間來過。舞步與跳法顯示出舞者的踢躂舞是從何而來,師承何人。他們也看到不同文化背景的踢躂舞者,如何將自己的傳統放進踢躂步中。范揚引述經驗:「像巴西的踢躂舞者,他們或會從我們這裡學懂一些舞步和詞彙,再很快融會到他們本身的音樂感中。」

 

有時,因為某些文化背景的舞者難以理解特定概念,必須作出改動。范揚從經驗指出:「有些巴西舞者做不到搖擺,因為巴西版的搖擺,正好是美國或藍調或是爵士搖擺的相反,那種怪怪的推前轉圈動作,與我們認知裡爵士搖擺墜後動作很不同。」多蘭斯插話:「像波薩諾瓦或森巴。」范揚則補充:「個人而言,或者因為我認識很多巴西踢躂舞者,巴西人是我見識中少數能夠真正將美國的藝術形式真完全融入他們自身文化,而一個美國人去看的話很容易注意到。不過,這也吸引我們去嘗試借用,巴西風格感覺很好。我借來了不少巴西舞步,這助我了解他們的文化和音樂。」

 

形式的改變也發生於別處。范揚憶述,他在日本見過以日本箏(一種類似中國箏的樂器)作伴奏的踢躂舞。其中一位與多蘭斯和范揚在《STOMP》一起演出的日本舞者現在正以太鼓(日本鼓)創作踢躂舞。有些日本踢躂舞者則用三味線(一種日本三弦結他)伴奏。范揚形容:「(它)有十分獨特的節奏感,而且和班卓琴差不多,它的彈撥節奏分明。」

 

 

Internationalization

 

Both Young and Dorrance teach tap dance in the USA as well as internationally.  Young had just finished a teaching gig in Japan before their Hong Kong tour.  He’s also done teaching stints in Brazil and they both teach at the Stockholm Tap Festival among others.  When they go someplace new, or return to a place after a year or so away, they can always tell who’s preceded them, or who’s been there since they left.  The steps the dancers do, the way they do them, tell the story of where their tapping comes from, who their teachers are.  But they can also see how tap dancers from different cultures use their traditions to put their own stamp on the form.  Talking about his experiences Young says, “While Brazilian tap dancers, they might take some of the steps and some of the vocabulary that we have, they very quickly remix it into their own musical sensibilities.”


In some cases, changes occur because the dancers from other cultures have difficulty getting specific concepts. Young talks about his experiences, “You know I have come across some Brazilian tap students who really cannot swing because Brazil’s version of swing is the opposite of American swing or blues swing or jazz swing. It’s this weird-like pushing and loping forward as opposed to falling back that we associate with swing.” Dorrance interjects “Like Bossa [Nova] or Samba”. Young adds, “For me personally, and maybe it’s because I know so many Brazilian tap dancers, that’s one of the few places that I have seen them really take the American art form and completely infuse it with their own culture, in a way that is very noticeable to an American seeing it. But also makes us want to borrow some of that.  Because the Brazilian feel is so good. There’s lots of Brazilian steps I’ve stolen, because it helps me understand their culture and music.”

 

Changes to the form happen elsewhere. Young recalls having seen tap dance in Japan accompanied by the koto, an instrument like the Chinese zheng.  One of the dancers that Dorrance and Young performed with in STOMP is Japanese and she’s now creating tap accompanied by taiko, Japanese drums. Some Japanese tap dancers are performing with the shamisen, a traditional three stringed guitar that Young recalls, “Has a very specific rhythmic sensibility, because it is almost like a banjo, it’s plucked and played very percussively.”

 

米雪﹒多蘭斯與尼古拉斯﹒范揚。Michelle Dorrance & Nicholas Van Young.

攝Photo: Matthew Murphy

 

保持常新

 

真正讓踢躂舞歷久常新的,不是舞步,或是演出的新配搭或場景,亦非加入新表演者和文化,而是它本身作為一種文化現象。重點是,新來者得以全面欣賞這個藝術形式,不只學習舞步,而是誰在哪兒如何創作它們,以及舞步如何變革。就如多蘭斯所說:「當人在某事情已甚有修為,而你與他們產生了聯繫時,我的天!你會見到他們的眼睛亮起來。」正是舞者眼中的一團火,以及他們的舞蹈,讓踢躂舞有如此長足發展。有了像多蘭斯和范揚這樣的領袖,踢躂舞不難保持長青,讓觀眾繼續喝采。

 

 

Keeping it Fresh

 

But the thing that helps keep tap dancing fresh is not the steps, or new combinations and contexts in which they’re performed, or infusions from new practitioners and different cultures, but the cultural phenomenon of tap dancing itself. How newcomers to it are given the opportunity to share a holistic appreciation of it, learning not just steps, but who did them and where and how, and how they’ve changed.  As Dorrance says, “As soon as you connect something they have been executing to something that has a greater depth... Oh my gosh! You can see their eyes light up.” It’s that fire in the dancers’ eyes and in their dancing that gives tap dancing such long legs.  With leaders like Dorrance and Young, it could easily go on and on keeping fresh and keeping their audiences cheering.

 

 

* Constance Valis Hill, Tap Dancing America: A Cultural History (New York: Oxford University Press 2010), 102.

 

 

伸閱讀 Read More
[ENG] Dorrance Dance - ETM: Double Down by Mandy Petty

[ENG] Transcript - Full Interview with Michelle Dorrance and Nicholas Van Young by Tom Brown

 

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