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[中][Eng]香港舞蹈有何特色 What Are the Characteristics of Hong Kong Dance?

April 17, 2020

Translated by Benjamin Wong, June 2000
(中文原文刊於1999年《舞蹈手札》第一冊第二期 English translation originally published on dance journal/hk 2-4 in 2000)

 

香港舞蹈有何特色? 這是個值得香港舞蹈工作者深思的問題。過往因爲殖民地的特殊地位,每當提起「香港特色」時,總會令自覺的藝術家感到尷尬,因為「香港特色」往往被認為是「 中西合璧」——在英國治下的華人社會特色。說好聽點,是擷取東方、西方所長,而究其實是非驢非馬、兩頭不到岸的藝術雜交次貨。在所謂的「中西合壁」裡,作品不用講求藝術的精準、美學的邏輯及文化的哲理思維,而只要中的、西的混起來,但求別人未見過的便是「香港特色」,這在香港過去的舞蹈作品裡實在屢見不鮮。

 

在八十年代中期,本港的編舞家們便察覺這不盡如人意的現象,所以除了少數人仍熱衷於「中西合璧」外, 其他都閉口不提「香港特色」了。成熟一輩及年青一代的編舞家們開始專注於個人藝術的追求,他們有些在作品中展現鮮明的個性、有些以作品面對時代社會、有些則用作品來探索各皮原創意念;雖然沒有駭人的口號如台灣的「尋找東方肢體美學」或大陸的「中華民族舞蹈現代化」等,香港舞蹈家們十多年各自耕耘的努力成果,如果用心去看,還是可以梳理出一幅波瀾壯闊的畫面的。可惜香港還未出現如此胸襟魄力的舞評人,能以嚴謹學術態度去研究香港舞蹈,以致被問及香港的舞蹈有何特色時,便只得空白一片。是香港舞蹈真的沒有特色嗎? 我看其實是未有足夠份量的舞蹈評論及研究,去為香港眾多的舞蹈創作定立指標而已。

 

在嘗試描劃香港舞蹈特色之前,有必要指出香港舞蹈發展的成就:首先,香港的業餘舞蹈活動,質與量都站於世界前列。粗略估計,每周學習舞蹈(包括芭蕾舞、民族舞、現代舞、爵士舞、土風舞、國標舞等)的學員達到一萬人次,遠超每周入場觀看足球的觀眾人數;專業舞蹈方面,雖然很難有技藝品評標準,國際間一些讚譽文字本可能包含很多主觀因素及「造勢」手法,但下列三件卻是不爭事實,可以證明香港舞蹈的發展水平:一.伍宇烈為城市當代舞蹈團編排的舞蹈《男生》獲取被譽為舞蹈奧斯卡的法國國際編舞大賽一等獎;二.梅卓燕被當代舞壇祭酒翩娜.包殊邀請代表亞洲前赴德國為其舞團廿五週年紀念演出;三.中國大陸的現代舞發展以香港為藍本,不斷邀請香港舞蹈家北上教學和排舞,香港舞蹈正影響著整個中國舞蹈的長遠發展。

 

伍宇烈 《男生》Yuri Ng’s Le Beau (1995)

 

然則香港舞蹈的特色是甚麼?它不是簡單化殖民地式的「中西合璧」,而是十多年來香港舞蹈創作的累積沉澱。倘若九七回歸是香港文化和歷史的轉捩點,經過回歸洗禮之後,我們回過頭來重新檢閱香港舞蹈,從八十年代至九七之間,宛如一個隨機多變而沒有限制的實驗過程,其中當然有很多不成熟的作品出現,批評是容易的,但對尋索香港舞蹈特色實在沒有太大意義;反而當我們留心觀察其中最優秀的創作,可以發現本港第一流的舞蹈家們,雖然各自走不同的路並呈現五花八門的風采,整體卻分亨著相同的氣質特性,在更高的層次上顯示了香港回歸前的內涵和面貌。香港舞蹈有四點特色,是快、輕、冷、銳!

 

第一個特色是快:這不單是指舞蹈動作的節奏和場景的轉換,而更是指編舞家們編舞心靈的快捷。香港三個職業舞團全年合共推出十五台全新節目,再加上其它半職業及業餘團體的演出,以有限的編舞家人數來說,可算創作量驚人。有說香港的舞編得快,跳得快,因此探討不夠深刻,演繹不夠嚴謹;可不知正是這點快,迫使編舞家們面對九七前變化萬端的香港社會,習練得反應敏捷,思維活潑靈動,推敲入微之餘,卻要直指本來,減去許多黏滯遲緩和迂迴曲折。八九年六月四日天安門事件,舉世矚目,我在八月初編演了舞劇《地獄變》以抒發熱賁張的感懷,至十月重演 《地獄變》時,內容卻迅速從呼天搶地,涕淚漣漣而轉注於表現事態發展的荒謬性。同年十一月,當普遍仍陷在悲愴的沉思內,我卻悠然敞開心扉,排演一支闡釋「時無止、分無常」而「萬物齊一」的莊子《逍遙遊》。三年後,一位旅美華人編舞家希望在城市當代舞蹈團排練用了三年時間編寫劇本的 《六月雪》而聲色俱厲地說:你難道忘記六四了嗎? 她卻不曉得,銘記在靈魂深處的歷史創痕不會消失,香港舞蹈家們面對這瞬息萬變的時代,卻不曾為了舐舔傷口而讓腳步停頓下來。

 

第二個特色是輕。輕不是虛無,不是浮誇,而是被壓在沉重包袱下的舉重若輕。今日屬於香港的編舞家們成長於殖民教育體制之下,因此被認為普遍缺乏民族歷史意識,他們當中最優秀的一群不能也不願意創作如台灣《薪傳》或大陸《東方紅》之類充滿民族激情的舞蹈。當文化人慨嘆香港沒有足夠重量級的作品去詠懷香港歷史時,卻不知舞蹈家們正以無根而輕盈的方式去摘取這個城市的記憶,以沒有包袱而輕巧的手段重塑這個城市的面貌。他們以輕鬆的心態面對這個城市文明的碎裂和破敗,故能遊徜於古今中外,隨手拈來,創造一個可能比現實更真實的文明。因此,我們看見黎海寧可以瀟灑地把法國女歌手庇雅芙的歌,墨西哥女畫家佛烈特的畫融和在她的《女人心事》之內,又滿不在乎地將中國樣板戲的程序和基督教聖經的末世意象糅合成了《革命京劇——九七封印》。舞蹈是關於香港的嗎?若仔細體會,可以感受到其中負載沉重的香港人和事,卻在編舞家的處理下如一葉輕舟,飄過激流。黎海寧還有一台舞劇《隱形城市》,借用了意大利文學家卡爾維諾的同名小說為文本,描述馬可勃羅輕舟簡從來到中國,沿途記錄了不同城市的人事景物,最後才發現,所有筆下描繪的都是馬可勃羅故鄉——威尼斯─的縮影。

 

黎海寧《隱形城市》Helen Lai’s Invisible Cities (1994)

 

第三個特色是冷。冷是一種態度,是對歷史的懷疑,對社會的不信任而產生的冷漠和冷淡。九七前香港時空造就下的舞蹈家們既不能成為歐洲殖民宗主國建構的一部份又不願溶入相對封閉的中國文化系統,所以最佳的方式莫如冷眼旁觀,以稍微介入卻隨時抽離的態度去選擇編舞的題材和表現手法。觀眾在欣賞真正優秀的香港舞蹈創作時,無論是大題材如國家民族或小題目如身邊感情瑣事,都不會看見毫無保留、歇斯底里式的狂熱。可以說,香港的編舞家們從來沒有想過用舞蹈去煽動人心,卻十分珍惜能夠超然於事物的冷靜──在其中他們或分析世情、或剖白內心、或細味傳統,為自己和觀眾雕琢一個空明剔透的藝術視界。潘少輝在《狂人日記之花花世界》中架設三層高的舞台並以一個旁觀者的角度羅列本地的眾生色相;伍宇烈在《男生》內則有條不紊地驅策六名舞者在一個冰冷的倒數時鐘前展示生命中如萬花筒般的慾望;梅卓燕在《獨步》裹拿著一柄油紙傘於滿天淡淡花雨間把玩著這柄傳統工具的種種可能性。這些獨特的香港編舞家各有不同的關懷對象,處理方式也各異其趣,但他們同樣地寧選充滿睿智的冷清,而鄙棄喧鬧煩囂的熱情。今日香港已經回歸祖國懷抱,面對一片說不清熱烘烘的口號和情緒,香港舞蹈的冷峻,更顯得彌足珍貴。

 

梅卓燕《獨步》Mui Cheuk-yin’s Eulogy (1993)

 

第四個特色是銳。公認的香港人鬼馬機智,擅於逆境求生,往往在不可能的情況下鑽營出路。在香港發展舞蹈也是困阻重重,沒有足夠資源,沒有龐大市場,而作為一個開放的城市,從世界各地前來謀生的舞者絡繹不絕,再加上演藝學院每年培訓畢業的舞蹈學生,都要在這片彈丸之地找尋立足點。所以香港舞壇的競爭頗為激烈,生存不易;不過,香港的好處是,只要你願意,那管你來自什麼地方,說什麼方言,跳什麼風格的舞,都可以留下來成為香港舞壇一份子。這樣龍蛇混雜的情 況,使其中最優秀的舞蹈家鍛煉出敏銳的頭腦和鋒銳的目光,才能在紛紜擾攘中冒出頭來。自九十年代起,一批年青編舞家躍上舞台,爭妍鬥麗,他們要能人所不能,想人所不敢想,闢蹊徑,走偏鋒,如初生之犢般充滿銳氣。 「舞城」「動藝」「東邊」「南群」「方舟」「玄牝」「戀舞狂」「多空間」「雙妹嘜」「小圈舞班」「三分顏色」「嘩啦嘩啦」「霹靂啪叻」,單是舞者們組班的名字便已經各出奇謀,醒目搶眼。他們當中一些最好的作品,總能別出心裁,以銳利的觸角挖尋撩撥生活和藝術的各個層面,剌激觀眾。譬如方舟舞蹈劇場演出的舞劇《你係唔係我類型? 》描述一個充滿神經質家庭中的瑣事,嬉笑怒罵地活現了今日社會中的種種怪狀,多空間及三分顏色又分別把舞台搬離劇院,表演於大埔農田上和灣仔游泳池中,舞城更嘗試用舞蹈入侵大學校園,在一個月之內要舞者每天在港大、中大、科大的升降機內、樓梯轉角及課室門口跳舞。

 

香港的舞蹈,快、輕、冷、銳,概括了本地最優秀編舞家們的創作面貌,同時也反映這個城市的特質。這個城市曾經是個殖民地,到現在仍是開放得不設防,有人嫌它不夠深刻、不夠凝重、不夠熱情、不夠博大而對之嗤之以鼻,但也有人因為它的快、輕、冷、銳而對之加倍愛惜。有人問為什麼香港沒有肯寧漢、翩娜.苞殊、大野一雄或林懷民,因此沒有像樣的後現代舞、舞蹈劇場、舞踏和中國現代舞?但若我們用點心思,多點關懷,下點研究功夫,將會發現香港舞蹈自有特色,是其它地方所無,正如其它地方包括美國、歐洲、日本甚至整個中國,都不可能再出現擁有今日香港氣質的一批舞蹈家。

 

What are the characteristics of Hong Kong Dance? This is a worthwhile subject for the Hong Kong dance community to ponder. Because of our unique history as a colony, local artists were embarrassed whenever "Hong Kong characteristics" were mentioned. Invariably, "Hong Kong Characteristics" were equated with some sort of "east-west" combination — that of a Chinese society under British rule. On the surface, it was taking the best out of the traditions; actually it referred to an opus of second-rate work that belonged to neither tradition. These "east-west combinations" demanded no stringent artistic standards, no logical aesthetic criteria, no philosophical thinking about culture. Instead, we only looked for some elements of "east" and "west", combined in some novel manner. Dance pieces exhibiting these "Hong Kong characteristics" were too numerous to mention.

 

In the mid-eighties, the dance community began to realize the inadequacies of this formulation. Apart from a few who still championed this "east-west combination", the majority ceased to bring up this issue of "Hong Kong characteristics". Both seasoned workers as well as a younger generation in the dance community started to concentrate on developing individualistic styles instead in their output. They began to explore "individuality", "social issues" and "creative originality"; and although there weren't drastic battle cries of "in search of aesthetics in the Oriental body" as there was in Taiwan, or "Modernisation of Chinese ethnic dance" as there was in mainland China; local choreographers nonetheless worked hard for the next ten years or more to produce a thriving dance scene that represented significant progress and success. It is just a pity that there has not yet been any serious and in-depth study by any Hong Kong dance critic into this subject of "Hong Kong Dance Characteristics", so that we come up 'empty-handed' whenever this issue is discussed. Is it really true that Hong Kong Dance has no special characteristics? I rather think that there is a lack of detailed study and research done on the subject.

 

Before continuing to describe the characteristics of Hong Kong Dance, we need to mention its achievements: first, Hong Kong amateur dance excels in the international dance community, both in quality and quantity. By rough estimates, weekly attendance in dance classes (including ballet, Chinese ethnic, modern, jazz, various "national", ballroom etc.) tops 10,000; far more than total spectators at football games. As to professional dance: although there exists no absolute artistic standards, and although even international accolades contain a certain amount of subjectivity as well as a tendency to "over-praise"; nonetheless the following three facts can serve to prove our achievement in the dance world. First, Le Beau by Yuri Ng was awarded the grand prize in the French International Choreography Competition, which is considered to be the 'Olympics' of the dance world. Second, Mui Cheuk-yin was invited by the legendary Pina Bausch to represent Asia to perform on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of her company. Third, the Modern Dance movement in Mainland China uses Hong Kong as its blueprint, and continuously invites local teachers and choreographers up north. Our dance culture has significant impact on the long-term development of dance in China.

 

So just what are the characteristics of Hong Kong Dance? It is not simply "east-west" combinations, but a distillation of our work for the past ten years and more. If re-unification with China in 1997 represented a turning point in our culture and history, and we now look back to inspect dance development from the eighties to this significant benchmark in history; we realise that this period represented one of total experimentation: and although it is easy to criticize based on some immature works, this is not particularly important in our search for "Hong Kong Dance Characteristics". On the contrary, if we look closely at the finer works by some of the more prominent local choreographers, it's not difficult to conclude that although there are a myriad of individual styles, they share a common sense of 'class and 'charm', exhibiting both qualities on the outside and inside of our society prior to re-unification. Hong Kong Dance has four special characteristics: quickness, lightness, coolness, and sharpness.

 

QUICKNESS

The first characteristic is quickness: this is not only in dance action or scenery change, but rather quickness of mind in most Hong Kong choreographers. The three professional dance companies in Hong Kong put on.` fifteen new programs each season. Combining this with other programs put on by semi-professional and amateur troupes, we realise that this is a huge volume*, of work by a relatively small number of choreographers. There are those who say that because Hong Kong dance works are produced and danced in a hurry, that there is a lack of in-depth exploration and serious interpretation. However, it is precisely because local choreographers had to develop quick responses, flexible thinking, and a penchant for details when faced with a rapidly changing society in the final colonial days, that they could avoid side-tracking, and focused directly at their final 'artistic' destinations. What happened on June 4'h in Tienamen Square captured the world's attention. I choreographed Hell Scream in early August to vent my passionate feelings on this subject. Upon re-staging this piece in October, the piece had already been re-worked to reflect not so much the anguish and tears, but rather the ridiculous development of events. In November of the same year, when there was still a general mourning in society, I liberated my heart and produced Wonderings in the Cosmos, based on Chuang-tze's work, in which he explored the "time stops for no one, people part for no reason" and "all things are one" principles. Three years later, I was confronted by a Chinese American choreographer who wanted to put her work Liu Yue Shue (June Snow) on a CCDC performance, a work which she had spent three years to produce. She demanded to know if I had 'forgotten June 4. Little did she know that the historical blow suffered deep within one's soul does not fade with time. However, faced with the rapid pace of an ever-changing society, Hong Kong choreographers never stopped to 'lick their wounds'.

 

曹誠淵作品《地獄變》Willy Tsao’s Hell Screen (1989); 圖片由CCDC提供 Photo provided by CCDC

 

LIGHTNESS

The second characteristic is lightness: referring not to emptiness, nor superficiality; but rather the ability to appear effortless when dealing with weighty issues under tremendous pressure. The current group of Hong Kong choreographers grew up under the colonial education system. They are generally considered to be 'deficient' in a sense of ethnicity or history. Even the best among them cannot, nor are they interested in producing works such as Taiwan's Survive or mainland China's The East Is Red; which are filled with ethnic passion. The culturally-inclined public complain that there is no major dance opus here exploring the unique history of Hong Kong, little do they know that some choreographers here are using a light and 'rootless' style to jot down this city's memory. Free of any historic baggage, they employ an agile technique to sculpt this city's appearance. Even when faced with the disintegration and damage of this city's culture, their relaxed attitude enables them to simply pick any topic at their whim - be it from the East, West, historical, or current - and create something that is more real than reality itself. Witness Helen Las Loose Pages in a Woman's Diary, in which she mixes Edith Piaf's songs with Frida Kaldo's paintings; or Revolutionary Pekinese Opera (Millennium Mix), which again mixes traditional Beijing Operatic elements with visions of Armageddon as depicted in the Bible in a highly convincing and yet almost inevitable way. Are these dances about Hong Kong? Looking closely, it's not difficult to sense the pressure of Hong Kong's people and its events. Yet under the choreographer's skilful treatment, it appears light as a small boat sailing through stormy waters. Another of Helen Lai's dances, Invisible Cities, describes Marco Polo's voyage to ancient China. This dance, based on Calvino's novel of the same title, depicts people and scenes along Marco Polo's journey. In the end, we realise that these depictions are actually a microcosm of his birthplace, Venice.

 

COOLNESS

The third characteristic is coolness: this is an attitude that resulted from doubt in history and mistrust in society. Being neither a part of European tradition nor wanting solely to be a part of Chinese tradition, Hong Kong remains aloof and withdrawn. Getting one foot in the door, and yet ready to get away at a moment's notice, this is the best attitude in choosing topics for choreography and methods of portrayal. In watching fine Hong Kong dance pieces, audiences will not see unreserved, hysterical passion, whether the topic is as 'large' as country, race, or as 'small' as everyday happenings and emotions. We can say that Hong Kong choreographers have never used their works to sway public emotions, but treasure a certain 'coolness' they achieve from surpassing the actual 'facts' — they use their works to analyze current events, or share their inner-thoughts, or examine tradition; in an attempt to carve a transparent and clear artistic space for their audiences. Pun Siu-fai utilized a three-tiered stage in his Lost in a Melodramatic City and revealed a lot about specific local personalities through the character of a bystander; in Le Beau Yuri Ng employs six dancers to show in a dispassionate and controlled manner life's different kaleidoscopic desires in front of a relentless count-down clock; in Eulogy, Mui Cheuk-yin toys with a traditional oil-paper umbrella under rainy skies, exploring the different meanings and interpretations such an item invokes. These unique Hong Kong choreographers have very different concerns, and use entirely different methods to explore their subjects. Yet there is the common thread of choosing an austere coldness over loudness or noisiness as their language. Today Hong Kong has once again become a part of China, faced with a lot of patriotic slogans and 'hot' propaganda, this 'coolness expressed by Hong Kong's dance community appears even more precious than before.

 

潘少輝《狂人日記之花花世界》Pun Siu-fai’s Lost in a Melodramatic City (1996)

 

SHARPNESS

The fourth characteristic is sharpness: it is generally agreed that Hong Kong people are highly inventive, adaptable under difficult circumstances, and often successfully surmount extremely adverse situations. It is equally daunting for dance to prosper and grow here. Resources are limited, and there isn't a big market. Hong Kong is an open city, dancers from all over the world seeking to make a living keep arriving upon our shores. This plus the annual graduates from APA's School of Dance: everyone seeks to establish a foothold in Hong Kong. Competitions are indeed fierce, and it's not easy to survive. However, the advantage here is that no matter where you're from, what style of dance you practise, or indeed what language you speak; as long as you are willing to become a part of Hong Kong's dance scene, everyone is equally welcome. Within such a highly competitive local dance scene, it's little wonder that the best choreographers develop a sharpness of mind and acute sense of observation in order to excel. Since the 90s, a group of young choreographers arrived on the scene, bringing with them new topics, vying with each other to be the best in everything. Breaking new ground, daring to be different, they are wild as untamed stallions. Dancing City, Dance Art, E-side Modern Dance Company, South ASLI Dance Workshop, Ark Dance Theatre, Manna Dance, Danseomanie, Y-Space, McMuiMui Dansemble, Dance Circle, Three Colours, Wala Wala, Bilibala Physical Theatre. Just looking at the names of these new dance troupes and you get a feel for their one-upsmanship to capture your attention. Among their best works, one can always find a special quality, using a sharpness to pry and dig into the many levels of life and art, bringing a new excitement to the audience. Examples include Ark Dance Theatre's Are You My Type, which depicts everyday events among members of a high-strung family, a tongue-in-cheek revelation of strange phenomena in today's society; Y-Space and Three Colours breaking out of the confines of a traditional stage to perform respectively in the fields of Tai Po and in a swimming pool in Wanchai; and in Dancing City's case, they invaded university campuses with their dance; performing for an entire month within elevators, in corners of stairways, and classroom entrances on the campuses of Hong Kong University, Chinese University, and the University of Science and Technology.

 

Quickness, Lightness, Coolness, and Sharpness say a lot about Hong Kong choreographers, and at the same time represent this city's lifestyle. Once a colony, this city of ours still doesn't shy away from outside influences. While there are those who find it not deep enough, not profound enough, not passionate enough, and not encompassing enough; there are others who treasure it all the more because of its quickness, lightness, coolness, and sharpness. People ask why there is no Merce Cunningham, Pina Bausch, Kazuo Ohno, or Lin Hwai-min here, and therefore no Post-Modernism, Dance Theatre, Butoh, or Chinese Modern Dance? Yet if we are willing to exercise a bit more thought, show a bit more concern, and dig a little deeper; then we will know that Hong Kong dance has its own characteristics, characteristics that no other place has. We will understand that we 'possess' a wealth of 'classy' choreographers who are uniquely ours; not to be found anywhere else in this world: not even the United States, Europe, Japan or anywhere else in the whole of China.

編輯手記 Editor's Note

 

九七主權移交的社會氛圍,為香港藝文圈與大眾市民帶來了一定的衝擊,啟發了很多創作,其作品有意無意地裝載了個人或集體意識。同時,因為九七的緣故,世界的目光都注意到這個彈丸之地,很多外國朋友也想了解一點香港的文化面貌。因此種種,催生了有關文化身分的思考。

 

另一方面,香港舞蹈的發展在九七前後也發展到了一個新階段。自1989年起,香港演藝學院舞蹈學院的學生開始陸續畢業,香港舞蹈界多了一批新一代的舞者。他們有些在舞團工作數年後自組新團,有些直接成為獨立舞者( independent artists),經過一輪汰弱留強後,漸漸地在本地舞蹈界站穩陣腳,改變了香港舞蹈界的生態面貌。

 

作為香港第一代的現代舞蹈家,曹誠淵一直親身經歷這些本地專業舞蹈的轉變和發展。他亦是《舞蹈手札》的創刊編輯,他在1999年的創刊冊上,把九七前香港的舞蹈作品加以梳理歸納,整合出一些他觀察到的共同特質而舉出四點特色:「快、輕、冷、銳」,發表了上文《香港舞蹈有何特色》。相隔一年,《舞蹈手札》將此文譯成英文。刊登後不久,白朗唐(Tom Brown,1948-2018) 撰文《笑言之中…》回應曹誠淵提出的香港舞蹈特色,詳細地以三個香港編舞作品:梅卓燕的《弓弦之間》(1997)、黎海寧的《隱形城市》(1994) 選段及曹誠淵的《三千寵愛》(1998) ,分析三位編舞家如何做到「輕中有物」。

 

Tom生前為香港演藝學院的講師,亦為《舞蹈手札》的長期編輯 。他與曹誠淵這兩位編輯一西一中,長年於香港舞蹈界的不同崗位出力,亦有共同的願景,希望香港至少也能夠有一本舞蹈的專屬刊物,創造多一個空間給舞蹈評論刊登,也容讓年輕的獨立編舞作品獲得一定的評論機會,幫助創作人成長之餘, 進而一直紀錄著香港舞蹈的發展。

 

《舞蹈手札》多年來側寫及正寫香港舞蹈的作品及人物,相信透過不停的書寫、紀錄、研究,再沈澱及論證,可為這個時代的舞蹈作品中反映的藝術方向、社會人民、時代思潮,留下一個註腳。回溯過去,識辨既往與當下之間的連接,並以史為鑑,一往無前。

 

今年離九七已經23年,「五十年不變」的承諾已經過了一半,在本地舞壇亦有很多後起之輩加入前輩們照亮舞台。回頭再看,到底沈澱多年,用今天的脈胳去看當年的場景可有新啟發?而這些年的長江後河又有為香港帶來了怎樣不同的特色?

 

The social atmosphere associated with the handover before 1997 cast a shadow over Hong Kong and made a profound impact on the general public. It also brought inspiration to the arts and cultural community, resulting in creative works that were intentionally or unintentionally loaded with individual or collective consciousness.  The transfer of sovereignty also brought international attention to the city and interest in its cultural scene.  All these elements encouraged local artists to investigate and define the cultural identity of Hong Kong.

 

Dance development in Hong Kong had reached a new phase around the same time. In 1989, the first students started to graduate from the School of Dance of the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts and set out to build a career in the dance industry. Some of these young dancers joined existing companies, and after several years some founded their own groups while others became independent artists.  After the process of 'natural selection', those that remained active gradually established themselves in the dance community and began to make changes to it.

 

As one of Hong Kong’s first modern dance artists, Willy Tsao witnessed how professional dance developed and changed in the city. He was also the founding editor of dance journal/hk.  The very first volume of the Journal published his above article What are the Characteristics of Hong Kong Dance, in which he examined dance works in Hong Kong before 1997 and summarized the common qualities he observed using four characteristics: "quickness, lightness, coolness, and sharpness". Tom Brown (1948-2018) wrote Things Said in Jest… soon after the English translation of Tsao's article was published, a year after the Chinese version, in dance journal/hk. He explores Tsao’s idea of ‘lightness’ as a characteristic of Hong Kong dance through discussing the way that three works by local choreographers, Mui Cheuk-yin's Between Bow and String (1997), Helen Lai's Invisible Cities (1994), and Willy Tsao's own Sexing Three Millennia (1998) used a light-hearted approach to convey their messages.

 

Tom was a teacher at the HKAPA as well as a long-time editor of dance journal/hk.  He and Willy, a westerner and a local Chinese, served the local dance community in different roles for a many decades.  Both were editors of the Journal, where they shared the same vision, to have at least one dance publication in Hong Kong that would provide an opportunity for independent dance works to be reviewed. This would not only nurture local talent but also help to serve as a historical record of local dance development.

 

It has been 23 years since the handover, and nearly half the promised 50 years of Hong Kong remaining unchanged have passed. In the local dance scene, many dance artists of younger generations have joined the veterans to shine on stage. After years of consolidation, what inspirations can we find when we revisit scenes from the past and view them in the context of today? What characteristics of Hong Kong dance have been brought forward by the newcomers through the years?

 

【延伸閱讀Extended Reading】

 

「香港舞蹈口述歷史」網頁 https://www.dancehistory.hk 及出版物 –《拾舞話:香港舞蹈口述歷史》五十至七十年代(城市當代舞蹈團於2018出版)

 “Research Project—Oral History of Hong Kong Dance Development” are published as this website (https://www.dancehistory.hk) and the book – The Unspoken Dance: An Oral History of Hong Kong Dance (1950s-70s), by City Contemporary Dance Company.

 

《香港舞蹈歷史》 (香港舞蹈界聯席會議於2000出版)

Hong Kong Dance History (Hong Kong Joint Dance Conference, published in 2000)

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