[中][ENG] 細說《舞蹈手札》的緣起與早期發展 dance journal/hk: From the Top
While the past 20 years has slipped by, dance journal/hk has become firmly rooted in Hong Kong. From its beginnings as an entirely black-and-white photocopied edition, to today as a full-color printed periodical with an online version and follow-up videos, the journal has undergone many changes. How has this specialized publication, which has gained industry-wide recognition locally, made it through the past two decades? What are its seldom heard stories? Answers to these questions begin with a look at the dance ecology of the 1990s.
The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts (HKAPA) sent out its first dance graduates in 1988. To replace the Council for the Performing Arts, founded in the early 1980s, the Hong Kong Arts Development Council (HKADC) was established in 1995 as the statutory body to plan, promote, and support the development of the arts. More subsidies were available, directly stimulating the rapid development of local dance activities in the 1990s. At that time, many early graduates from the HKAPA organized dance companies one after another; along with the social ambience regarding the handover of Hong Kong in 1997, many thoughts on our identity and creations were sparked. However, most dance criticism in the mainstream press focused only on the productions of flagship art companies or performance tours of overseas dance companies to Hong Kong, neglecting the productions of small and medium size dance companies.
《舞》的創刊號及第二冊以黑白影印，由第三冊開始有單色封面。 The journal begins as an entirely black-and-white photocopied edition, starting from its third issue, its cover became in 1+1 color.
Willy Tsao, founder of City Contemporary Dance Company (CCDC), self-financed and published a cultural and art magazine, Crossover Magazine, in the 1990s. Through this serious publication, he hoped to encourage more reports on arts and culture, as well as contemplation and discussion after each production. Nonetheless, the subvented organization at that time, which was the Council for the Performing Arts, did not attach great importance to his work, and made various requests impeding its development. For example, instead of attention to certain types of styles or performances, the Council demanded balanced reporting on different genres of the arts. In light of these conditions, Tsao, as one of the founding members of the Hong Kong Dance Alliance (HKDA), suggested creating a brand-new dance-oriented publication, dance journal/hk.
Tsao intended the publication to be professional. A large readership was not sought, as it was meant for industry practitioners with an emphasis on serious discussion and commentary. According to Tom Brown, another originator of dance journal/hk, in every major metropolis around the world where dance thrives, there is a publication devoted exclusively to dance. Therefore, he hoped for such a publication in Hong Kong to provide more room for commentary about dance and space to review the works of young independent choreographers, furthering the growth of creators and nurturing dance audiences.
時任編輯Willy在199年創刊號封面上的編者話提及「手作過程」，城市當代舞蹈團、香港演藝學院、香港芭蕾舞團、香港舞蹈團都參與出版過程。 In the editor’s note of the journal’s initial issue in 1999, its first editor, Willy Tsao wrote about the “domestic process” in producing the journal. City Contemporary Dance Company, Hong Kong Academy of the Performing Arts, Hong Kong Ballet, Hong Kong Dance Company also participated in the publication.
由創刊號開始，《舞》已為讀者提供舞蹈界消息和節目資訊，一直至今。 Since its first issue, the journal has been providing dance news and events information to its readers and continues until today.
There were a lot of considerations regarding the Chinese and English names of the journal. Tsao recalls that when he tried to name the journal, his main concern was to make the theme of dance stand out in a non-academic way. After discussion, in the end, a simple and low-profile name was preferred《舞蹈手札》to《非常舞蹈》as the Chinese title. As for the English version, Brown reckoned that the word journal had a bit more weight than magazine. Although journal shares the meaning of periodical, what it implies is in fact a less scholarly diary; moreover, it was decided to have the title all in lower case letters with a tag of “/hk”. This decision was partially inspired by fashion designers of that time, who similarly tagged the initials of their cities to their brand names.
Starting from the second year of publication, Cecil Sze Tak-on, was engaged in the design and layout process and later also assisted in editing and writing for the journal. He talked about the lack of specialized reviewers and full-time critics in spite of attention to commentaries in the performing arts industry at that time. Although funding allowed the periodical Xpressions to launch in 1998, its reviews couldn’t save it from termination as that funding came to an end.
Brown pointed out that during that period, articles published in the mass media were only a few hundred words in length due to limitations of space. Listing information about production staff and a brief summary alone took most of that space, leaving not much room for a detailed critique of the production. dance journal/hk has made the publication of longer and more in-depth articles possible and has become a contemporaneous record of dance development.
Thinking back to the commencement of the journal, Tsao remembers a plain edition with only a few copies and even an undetermined number of pages. He and Brown would write one to two features or reviews and asked active commentators for articles. Owning to limited resources, they couldn’t pay much in remuneration to the writers. It was hard to request a contribution of articles to the journal, and most of the content consisted of material reprinted from newspapers. Tsao says that there were art reviews in South China Morning Post, Ta Kung Pao, Ching Pao, and Sing Tao Daily, and they would reprint the published articles in dance journal/hk, as a form of news clipping service for HKDA’s members. On one hand, they could save on costs; on the other hand, it was more convenient for artists, art companies, and readers to loo