黃大徽作品《春之祭》Dick Wong’s The Rite of Spring; 攝Photo: Franz Lai
對談嘉賓 Guest: 伍宇烈 Yuri Ng
“Dick, you’re quite funny, you pretend not to know how to dance!” Yuri Ng still remembers hearing this audience member’s remark in the post-show sharing of Min Jian Chuan Qi in 2005. This Hong Kong Dance Company 8/F Platform performance was an official collaboration between Ng and Dick Wong. In the show, Wong had to do stretching exercises with other dancers. He was obviously not as flexible, and he showed this weakness in an exaggerated way.
After hearing this, Ng was first angry, then doubtful, and finally upset, because this remark wasn’t criticizing his work, but was a reflection on how people viewed dance. Today, after 14 years, he still asks rhetorically, “Why would you feel brave enough to state, ‘If you can’t do a split, you don’t know how to dance’?”
Looking at this pair of dance buddies, one of them started ballet at the young age of six at Jean M. Wong School of Ballet, while the other, in his twenties, couldn’t convince Ms. Wong with the arch of his foot to accept him as a student; one of them reached middle age and left Hong Kong Ballet, and then began really to like ballet, while the other quit working in journalism in his thirties and committed himself to the performing arts . Their backgrounds may seem very different, but in fact they are like-minded and sympathize with each other.
Dick Wong (first from left) in rehearsal of Hong Kong Dance Company’s 8/F Platform Min Jian Chuan Qi in 2005;
Photo provided by Hong Kong Dance Company
Without Standards, How Would We Have Limits?
Recently in a discussion someone asked Wong what he was most familiar with in his body. He answered: limitations. To Wong, who started dancing only in his twenties, limitations shadowed him as soon as he stepped into the studio.
大專時，他報讀市政局的芭蕾舞班，班上有三十九個穿粉紅舞衣的女童和一個身上有廿多種顏色的五十歲男人。排練室內，有人不明所以模仿正規芭蕾舞姿態手勢；有人動作浮誇，像是要藉此舒解生活的束縛。黃大徽自覺格格不入，後來到城市當代舞蹈團學習較「中性」的現代舞。然而，他仍然會質疑為何跳得像老師才算是好、為何由 Martha Graham 的身體和脾性發展出來的舞步會成為身型背景不一的人之基礎。
When in college, he took ballet classes organized by the Urban Council. The others in the class were thirty-nine girls in pink tutus and a man in his 50s dressed in more than twenty colors. In the studio, some mindlessly imitated standard ballet postures and gestures; some moved exaggeratedly, as if seeking release from the fetters of life. Wong felt that he did not fit in, and later on learned the more “neutral” modern dance at City Contemporary Dance Company. Yet, he still questioned why it was only considered good when you danced like the teacher, or why Martha Graham’s movements, developed out of her body and temperament, would be fundamental for people with different bodies and backgrounds.
黃大徽明白「這些標準是牢不可破」，彷彿是一面鏡子不斷告訴他：你根本不適合跳舞。當標準創造出來的「限制」逼他走到專業的另一端，他反而有自由找自己的方法、以自己的身體能做的事作起點。他做不到專業舞者做的東西，相反，專業舞者也做不到他做的東西。因此，他會以雜誌形式探索舞蹈，也會在《B.O.B.*》用語言顛覆舞蹈的定義，而資深舞者如邢亮亦會有興趣與他合作──他們在2014年聯合創作《無 | 雙》。逆流而行，黃大徽在途中開拓了很多空間，啟發他思考和質疑「甚麼是標準」、「甚麼是訓練」和「甚麼是舞蹈」等題目。
Wong understands that “these standards are unbreakable”, and it is like a mirror continuously telling him: you are not suited to dance. When limitations created by standards forced him to the other side of the dance field, he had the freedom to find his own method, starting from what his body can do. He cannot do what professional dancers do, but equally, professional dancers cannot do what he does. And so, he explored dance in the form of a magazine, and in B.O.B.* he subverted the definition of dance using language. Experienced dancers like Xing Liang were interested in collaborating with him — together they created 0|2 in 2014. Going against the grain, Wong opened up a lot of spaces, inspiring him to think about and interrogate topics such as “what are standards”, “what is training” and “what is dance”.
黃大徽（左）與邢亮（右）作品《無 | 雙》Dick Wong (left) and Xiang Liang’s (right) 0|2 ;
黃大徽（後）與邢亮（前）作品《無 | 雙》Dick Wong (back) and Xiang Liang’s (front) 0|2 ;
Yuri Ng thinks that it is important to be able to find your own path like Dick Wong. When he was a young “Ballet Prince”, Ng had a narrow view of dance owing to his knowledge of ballet. He never danced at a disco — without rehearsals, how do you dance? Later on, he realized that the standard movements that he had mastered had become stumbling blocks. During a dance video shoot produced by Zuni Icosahedron, the director asked Ng not to run on tiptoes. He was shocked and bemused at this instruction, because he hadn’t noticed that ballet movements had become his body’s memory. He started to doubt the movements that were always being appreciated: if they were rejected in another situation, was what he learned incorrect?
Ng, who satisfied all the standards, and Wong, who didn’t comply with standards, both felt limited. However, these limitations made them unwilling to be trapped.
The person who led Ng to view ballet from a new perspective, surprisingly, was Wong: “He made me see ballet as another thing.” Ng recalled watching, in 1997, this dancer without a professional training background but with the infective power of his performance. “That is not the ‘beauty’ that I had known to be ‘beautiful’.” Why was that?
The most unforgettable ballet Wong had ever seen was danced by a chubby Japanese auntie in 1994. She was Wong’s classmate in a workshop in Munich. She danced in her own way in a dignified manner, and he could see her passion and hard work. To her, it seemed that the significance of ballet wasn’t about performance or aesthetics, but the pleasure this dance form brought her.
In Hong Kong, when ballet students can’t do certain movements asked by the teachers, they are usually told, “It isn’t because you are limited physically, it’s because you’re lazy!” On the other hand, the instructor of that workshop (a dancer with Pina Bausch) asked Wong to put his arms at a level that was comfortable to him, and informed students of the purpose of a movement, for example, to find your center or to transfer the balance your weight. Wong thinks that beautiful dancing is beautiful because the performer establishes a connection with the movements.
During the interview, Ng asked Wong if the movements of the people in the coffee shop are dance, and Wong replied, “Dance is a context, and what I (usually) deal with is a performance. And so this thing can be very broad.” Wong thinks that if there is a real-time audience in a space, it can be a dance performance. So, talking about dance without moving our bodies can be a dance, or a live video of a dance is also a dance performance. The two of them sat on the same side of the table, joking from the beginning that they were a double act, aware that this is a setting with an audience present.
Research is Consciousness
In recent years, Wong has been actively involved in dance curation projects with research as the core, including Body · Dance Vision by Unlock Dancing Plaza, and Collaborative Creative Lab by Hong Kong Dance Alliance. Ng rolled his eyes at the word “research”, as he felt that research should be about oneself rather than some other time period, event, or topic. However, Wong explained that what he does is not a quantitative or qualitative academic research. Instead, his role is to design a process and adventure for participants to experience and reflect on.
黃大徽表示：「如果我們有那個意識，其實research（研究）是ongoing（持續的） 。『意識』的意思：創作最重要是甚麼？我覺得是inspiration（靈感）。你要問你自己是否時刻都是一個接受inspiration，接受被inspired （啟發）的狀態。」
Wong remarked, “If that consciousness is in us, then research is an ongoing thing. The meaning of ‘consciousness’— what is most important in creative work? I think it’s inspiration. You have to ask yourself if you are always ready for inspirations, ready to be inspired.”
在尋找甚麼是舞蹈的過程，黃大徽似乎不是在找答案，而假如有肯定的答案，他也未必會接受，或者覺得失望。他補充：「或者與我看 contemporary art（當代藝術）的觀念有關，因為我覺得contemporary art基本上是一個過程，就是：你不斷 define（定義）和 redefine（再定義），因為隨著時間改變、隨著我認識的人、經歷的事，那樣東西會不斷對我發生影響，那東西我也會用以看世界，於是有時我得到的答案都不是答案。」
In the journey of figuring out what is dance, Wong does not seem to be searching for an answer, and even if there were a definite answer, he might not accept it, or he might feel disappointed. He added, “Perhaps it’s related to my concept of contemporary art, because I think that contemporary art is basically a process, that is, you constantly define and redefine — as time goes on, I get to meet new people and I get to experience things. It will continuously influence me, and I will use it to look at the world, and so sometimes the answers I get aren’t answers at all.”
“This comes back to a concept I always discuss with people — can we not discuss ‘what is dance’? Can we rather discuss ‘what can dance be’?” After all, dancing and creating isn’t about making an argument. Wong thinks that creating is finally about learning to live, “To find your connection with yourself, your connection with others, your connection with the world, through creative works.” Because until the day he dies, 1+1 and The Rite of Spring won’t represent him. He thinks we only have one creative work, that is the life we have lived.
In the end, we can rightly “pretend not to know” how to dance, but we can’t justify “pretending not to know” how to live.
Dick Wong staged 1+1 with KT Yau Ka-hei in The Self and The Other Series presented by Zuni Icosahedron in 2018;
攝Photo: Franz Lai;
圖片由進念．二十面體提供 Photo provided by Zuni Icosahedron
黃大徽作品《春之祭》Dick Wong’s The Rite of Spring;
攝Photo: Vic Shing;
圖片由進念．二十面體提供 Photo provided by Zuni Icosahedron