舞跡可尋 In Search of a Dance Story
Accidental Dancer, an interview with Frederick Yeung
Frederick Yeung (Front row, 4th from the right) with participants in a teacher's course (Western Folk Dance) he taught co-organized by Hong Kong Schools Dance Association and the Education Bureau in 2016.
圖片由學校舞蹈節提供 Photo provided by SDF
The Schools Dance Festival was awarded Outstanding Dance Education at the 19th Hong Kong Dance Awards. The Festival is in its 53rd year of operation and during those many years scores of educators have worked tirelessly and without fanfare to push dance education in Hong Kong. One of their many unsung heroes is Frederick Yeung. Yeung is a dance instructor, P.E. teacher, and a folk dancer. After an accidental encounter with folk dance during high school, he embarked on a career of folk dance and dance education.
第52屆學校舞蹈節現代舞組別優勝者 Winner of the 52nd Schools Dance Festival- Modern Dance
攝 Photo: 勁彩影藝社 Powerful Colour Image. 圖片由學校舞蹈節提供 Photo provided by SDF
楊君儒任教師多年，將要退休。談起如何與舞蹈結緣，熱愛運動的他憶起中學時球賽小休期間聽到某課室傳來的土風舞音樂聲吸引，好奇之下便嘗試加入，一試便喜歡上了，還加入了土風舞學會。當時香港學校的舞蹈教育以西方土風舞為主，所用的教材是一套美國公司Radio Corporation of America（RCA）出版的土風舞音樂唱片資料，由港英政府教育署在六十年代引入。RCA輯錄了美國移民的家鄉土風音樂，配以文字簡述土風舞動作。楊在中學時期接觸的土風舞，主要來自於RCA的資料，老師們需要發揮創意，以舞蹈演譯文字。
Yeung, who has been a teacher for many years, will soon retire. Looking back over his time in education, he talked about how his connection to folk dance began. A sports lover, Yeung recalled hearing some folk dance music in a secondary school classroom during the intermission of a ball game, and was attracted by it. As a result, out of curiosity, he gave folk dance a try and instantly fell in love with it before formally joining the school’s folk dance society. At that time, dance education in Hong Kong schools was dominated by Western folk dance. Teaching materials were a series of informative texts on folk dance recordings published by the Radio Corporation of America (RCA), which was introduced in schools by the Education Department during the 1960s. RCA compiled the folk music, with a brief description of each folk dance movement, from the home countries of American immigrants. The folk dances that Yeung came across during this period were mainly from the RCA records. Teachers using the RCA series needed to bring their creativity into full play to interpret the text through dance.
後來楊入讀葛量洪教育學院（1994年合併為香港教育學院一部分，現正名為香港教育大學），他憶述教授一句：「要裝備自己成為好的體育老師，必須要百足多爪。」他四處赴考不同的運動教練和裁判資歷，熟習體育課程裡的5大範疇，舞蹈就是其中一個範疇：「當時教授介紹我們去考英國的舞蹈教師考試，便聽話與一班同學報名去了。」楊參加的是由英國皇家舞蹈教師協會（Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing, ISTD）舉辦，鍾金寶夫人執教的專業教師資格（Associate）。楊君儒是第二屆學生，而第一屆（1977年）由陳寶珠女士和鍾金寶夫人教授。豈料畢業後，鍾金寶夫人邀請他執鞭教授ISTD土風舞課程。一教，就教了三十多年，他說：「我特別敬重鍾金寶夫人，她可算是我的『伯樂』。」
Later Yeung enrolled in the Grantham Institute of Education (which merged with The Hong Kong Institute of Education in 1994, now The Education University of Hong Kong). He recalled his professor saying: "To equip yourself to become a good PE teacher, you must be a Jack-of-all-trades." Following his teacher’s advice, he went around to take different sports coaching examinations and referee qualifications, and familiarized himself with the five major categories of the physical education curriculum. Dance was one, "At that time, our Professor introduced us to the British dance teacher examination system. Our class followed him and enrolled. "The one that attrached Yeung was the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (ISTD) a professional dance teacher qualification taught by Joan Campbell. Yeung was a student among its second intake – the first class in 1977 was taught by Pearl Chan and Joan Campbell. After graduating, Campbell invited him to teach the ISTD folk dance course. Having now taught the course for 30 years, he said: “I particularly respect Mrs. Campbell, she can be said to be my long-time mentor.”
1974年，學生於舞蹈節期間上演的蒙古舞。 In 1974, students performed Mongolian Dance during the festival.
Photo from Schools Dance Festival Golden Jubilee Special Publication, provided by SDF
此後，楊活躍於香港的舞蹈教育。為使學校舞蹈節更成熟專注，香港學界舞蹈協會（協會）於1997年成立，與教育局合辦一年一度的學校舞蹈節及舉辦眾多推廣舞蹈教育活動，楊是創會委員之一。至今，楊仍然是透過會員投票選出的執行委員及董事，亦曾經於學校舞蹈節擔任多年的西方舞評判。2001年，教育局推出《綜合舞蹈教材套》* 協作研究及發展（「種籽」）計劃，楊參與編寫西方土風舞的部分，淘汰沿用多年的RCA教材。楊樂見舞蹈節將舞蹈普及：「舞蹈節今年已發展至665間參賽學校。2004-2005年間也加入了爵士舞及街舞和體育舞蹈組別，希望容納更多舞種。 」
Since then, Yeung has been active in the dance education scene in Hong Kong. To help make the Schools Dance Festival more sophisticated and focused, the Hong Kong Schools Dance Association (SDA) was established in 1997. Together with the Education Bureau, they hold the annual Schools Dance Festival and organize numerous promotional dance activities. Yeung is one of its founding members. He continues to be a member of the Executive Council, which is elected by the members of the SDA, and has served for many years for the Schools Dance Festival as one of its judges for Western dance. In 2001, the Education Bureau launched the Dance Learning and Teaching Package* Collaborative Research and Development ("Seed") Projects. Yeung took part in the preparation of the Western folk dance unit, and the elimination of the RCA teaching kits that had been used for many years. He sees the Schools Dance Festival as a way to popularize dance. He said, "There are 665 participating schools in this year’s Schools Dance Festival, for which we have introduced the Jazz, Street Dance and DanceSport competition category in the year of 2004-2005, hoping to accommodate more dance forms in the festival."
第52屆學校舞蹈節西方舞組別優勝者 Winner of the 52nd Schools Dance Festival- Western Dance
攝Photo: 勁彩影藝社Powerful Colour Image 圖片由學校舞蹈節提供 Photo provided by SDF
Art Education or Physical Education?
Dance is an art form. Asked whether dance education is art or physical education, Yeung, who comes from a sports background, responded, "When the concept of art education was not as prevalent as it is today, dance education was placed in the sports category in extra-curriculum activities, since it was a learning activity outside the classroom. Later, when the concept of ‘art education’ arose, music, drama, choral speaking, painting and so on were recognized as art education. It was then people started to think about the place of dance within an art educational setting.” Yeung describes dance as one of the tools for education. According to Yeung, there are different tools, with each tool leading to different kinds of training. For example, ball games are used to train muscle strength, while gymnastics train suppleness. Dance is considered the best means to train a sense of aesthetics and rhythm. Each exercise complements the others. Dance can help lengthen and stretch the bulky muscles of sportsmen, and supplement for the lack of rhythm in ball games. But from the view of resources and teacher training, dance was categorized in physical education, because teachers of sports are better at physical training than, for instance, music teachers. Consequently, dance was placed within the domain of physical education. Of course, Yeung hopes that Hong Kong can begin to launch teacher specialist training for dance education, so that dance can be regarded as an individual subject just as music and fine arts are.
Yeung’s dance class also includes social training and personal development. “Some students are not as physically agile, while other students do not feel physically confident or good enough. I treat them with a nurturing attitude and allow them to choose to participate freely. I usually arrange for students from the school dance team to stand in the front, while those who are not confident enough can choose to stand at the back. Gradually they will begin to see and appreciate the beauty of the body. Even those who had first resisted dance are willing to take part in the waltz in their final year.” For his classes, Yeung usually chooses Hungarian dance and Slovak dance as subjects. There is a lot of traditional partnering work in these two styles of folk dance, and physical contact with the opposite sex is inevitable. He laughs, saying most boys who take part in the folk dance society are there to meet girls. The love for dancing usually comes later.
In 2005, Frederick Yeung participated in National Festival of Bulgarian Folklore Art in Koprivshtitsa.
圖片由受訪者提供 Photo provided by interviewee
Cultural Inheritance of Folk Dance
In the 1990s, after the Iron Curtain fell, Eastern European countries gradually opened their doors to the outside world. Some Eastern European folk dance teachers began to travel to the Far East for visits and to teach. In 1995, in preparation for the Open Folk Dance Competition at Ko Shan Theatre, Yeung invited a dance teacher from Europe to choreograph a dance piece. However, the level of the work was not as good as he had expected. This inspired him to go to Romania to study the regional dances of the Hungarian section (Szekelyfold) alone, with his only guide information faxed to him by a British friend. To this day, almost every year, Yeung travels with his students to study ethnic dances in different parts of Europe. Because of his identity as a Hong Kong citizen, Yeung had an interesting experience in 1997 when he took his students to visit Eastern Europe. "It was 1997, the year Hong Kong was handed over to China. I was with my students travelling from the Czech Republic by train to Romania via Slovakia. As the train stopped in Slovakia at border control for passport check, the immigration officer at customs was quite surprised to see us with British National Overseas Passports, and not Chinese ones. He then suspected that we were refugees fleeing from the Chinese communist party and nearly had us repatriated back to the Czech Republic.”
Folk dance carries the cultural genetic code of a nation. As a Hong Kong folk dance teacher and dancer who has studied both the RCA course from the United States and the teacher’s course at ISTD from United Kingdom, he has the following views on folk dance’s role in different cultural arenas, "Folk dances originate from celebrations and rituals. Villages in Eastern Europe also have what is equivalent to Chinese ancestral halls for gatherings. The podium where the village head stands to speak to the villagers in public becomes a stage for performing dance. Through its transformation over time, folk dance has become a platform that reflects a nation’s strength. Folk dance began simply as a dance around the trees and wells of the village by the villagers. It gradually moved onto the stage, and finally with the formation of national folk dance troupes, it is becoming professional.” Yeung’s dance career is interwoven with different cultural and traditional roots. His travels to Europe to learn about dances of different nationalities allowed him to broaden the scope of the dance education curriculum in Hong Kong.
第52屆學校舞蹈節東方舞組別優勝者 Winner of the 52nd Schools Dance Festival- Oriental Dance
攝Photo: 勁彩影藝社 Powerful Colour Image. 圖片由學校舞蹈節提供 Photo provided by SDF
Speaking of the future of folk dance and its further development in Hong Kong, Yeung lamented the lack of demand for folk dance in the local dance market. Apart from its use by primary and secondary schools for the Schools Dance Festival, folk dance courses and performances are less popular than other dance forms. However, this is not the case in Japan. "Once I took part in a folk dance camp in Eastern Europe. There were only two Asians there. I was one, the other was a Japanese dancer. When I arrived at the camp, he had already been in that village for two years studying folk dance. Japanese respect for cultural tradition has made folk dance popular in that country. It is not hard to spot this considering Japan has had a folk dance costume museum that has collected and displayed folk dance costumes of Eastern Europe for over a century.”
Yeung admits that folk dance is not as fashionable as jazz dance and hip-hop, and as specialized as ballet and modern dance. Its old-fashioned image has made some students resist it at first sight. But he smiled and said just because it is old-fashioned has not stopped him from promoting it, "The Chinese translation for old-fashioned is Lao Tu. "Lao" stands for traditional culture, "tu" means soil, signifying the pastoral, the spiritual, a fresh atmosphere where people relax like listening to a folk song. What's wrong with being old-fashioned?"
*Note: In 2001, the Education Bureau launched Dance Learning and Teaching Package Collaborative Research and Development ("Seed") Projects incorporating jazz, street dance and, dance sports into the existing curriculum. In 2008, the package was sent to primary and secondary schools as dance teaching materials. While jazz, street dance and, dance sports were also added as a new dance competition category for the 41st Schools Dance Festival in 2004-2005.