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[中][ENG]聾人的聲音就是舞蹈 — 談黃耀邦的「舞語」與共融 The voice of Deaf people is a dance -- Jason Wong’s language of dance and inclusion

 

[中]聾人的聲音就是舞蹈 — 談黃耀邦的「舞語」與共融

文:鬈毛妃   手語傳譯: Heidi Man

 

寧靜的舞蹈課

紫紅色的燈光下,舞者分成兩行,鄭秀文的歌聲響起⋯⋯

 

筆者以文字敘述Jason為《Creo En Mi》部分歌詞所創作的手語舞舞步

 

黃耀邦(Jason)的課很安靜,除了間中音樂的聲浪調得太大的時候(一笑),他跟參加者的溝通,不論是聾人、健聽的甚至是不通中文的日本人,都是用香港手語和身體語言,有時候他會輔以口語,但主要還是靠各人的專注和觀察,讓每一個表情、每一個動作成為有意義的溝通;不懂香港手語的參加者可以看Jason、看鏡子、看其他參加者;聽不到音樂的參加者可以看Jason、看鏡子、看其他參加者、感受地板的震動、感受喇叭的震動。回心一想,不是所有舞蹈課都這樣嗎 —— 看導師、看鏡子、看其他參加者。

 

他的編舞也與別不同,一套街舞的身體語言配合香港手語,這種「crossover」(跨界)衍生成一種新派系,賦予了他所揀選的音樂及歌曲另一個層面的藝術演繹,又同時為舞蹈語言增添了詞彙。談當代舞對何謂意義與意象的探索,在這種作品裡大概又有新的體會,讀者可以從他編舞的《願榮光歸香港》手語版親自感受當中的力量。更重要的是,這是貼地的創作:是以「人」為本、以「溝通」為軸的創作,正正呈現了聾人與一般人在生活上的距離,大概跟藝術與一般觀眾的距離一樣 —— 有時對方其實毫無保留,我們卻摸不著頭腦,但原來只要肯放開固有的方式,放鬆去看,交流就會自然出現,不必強求。這麼一來,共融大概也該無聲無色地存在,不必掛在嘴邊。

Jason於手語舞課跟學生以香港手語、身體語言及少量口語互動; 攝:《舞蹈手札》編輯部

 

Jason說跳舞是希望挑戰自己,大概沒有想到還未挑戰身體,作為聾人的身份首先被挑戰。當年決定去紐約學跳舞,是因為不想平淡過一生,希望發掘自己,找到自己擅長的事。怎料學校沒有提供手語翻譯,而老師在課堂輔以大量的口語講解,只是看導師、看鏡子和看同學並不足夠。在同一個課室裡,Jason 沒有得到相等的待遇,就跟學校提出要求,學校竟然建議Jason要不退學,要不就沿用學校的方法繼續。Jason於是做資料搜集,獲知美國的殘疾人士歧視條例(Americans with Disabilities Act,簡稱ADA), 並在一次街頭的平權嘉年華中,認識了一位人權律師,在其支援下與校方糾纏三個月後始達成協議,繼續上課並享有手語傳譯的服務。談共融,前題原來是先要知道自己的權利及懂得怎樣去爭取。

 

在學校還發生過一件事,讓他印象深刻。學校的課都要預早報名,滿額就上不了,Jason說有一次他早就到了等上課,突然看見其他人不停地走來走去,他覺得奇怪,去問接待處的職員,花了好些時間溝通,才發現原來職員剛才宣佈課堂有調動,所以大家都要重新登記。Jason聽不到,白白空等,想上的課都被其他人登記至額滿,Jason就跟學校投訴,氣憤之餘亦感到無奈;最令人啼笑皆非的是,後來當Jason再遇到那個職員時,對方竟然打起美國手語來!原來一直都懂,只是不用;這麼一來,就說明聾人很多時候都是「被殘疾」—— 不是他們不願意溝通或聽不明白,是一般人沒有盡力去了解或表達,把溝通的責任放到聾人身上。

 

事實上,聾人在聾校讀書,以往不准使用手語,也不鼓勵使用身體語言,而是強逼他們讀唇,單方面去學習「溝通」。Jason的學生包包也是聾人,深知一般人對聾人的誤解,本身為演員的她,希望透過跳舞去打破大家對聾人印象的框框,加上以往因為制度問題,她的圈子彷彿只有聾人,參加了這個舞蹈課,認識了更多健聽的朋友,發現原來也有健聽人願意了解和溝通,這讓她對共融有了新的看法 —— 共融,是共同達成的,而不能單靠一方努力。

 

Jason與筆者與訪問後合影; 攝:《舞蹈手札》編輯部

 

「如果我不是聾人,我就不會跳舞。」

一般人對聾人的理解是:聾人不會聽音樂,對音樂沒興趣。

一般人對舞蹈的理解是:舞蹈與音樂不可分割。

於是,一般人對聾人舞者的理解,就只是專注在「聽不到音樂,怎能跳舞?」而忘了舞蹈的本體,是身體和節奏,而節奏的來源,正是我們自己的心跳。Jason 喜歡舞動,因為跳舞,他有了生命和夢想;事實上,把心跳看成生命的證據,舞跳得愈勁,心跳得愈快,那心跳所泵動的力量,自然又讓舞者跳得更淋漓盡致,一切都很順理成章。而當Jason說:「如果我不是聾人,我就不會跳舞。」背後,大概是因為他能真正感受從體內那股強大的原動力,從根本裡去感受舞蹈與自身的關係,而當他把自己的母語(香港手語)化成「舞語」,他作為聾人與舞者的身份就二合為一、不可分割。

 

體驗總比聽說好。來自社福界的Rita說從前參加的舞蹈班,動輒就三、四十人,導師分身不暇,同學沒有交流;在Jason的課,雖然不懂手語,但小班教學中,Jason可以逐個指導,大家放學後自然地一起吃飯,並不是造作的硬「共融」。

 

一般人對共融的理解,是先把人分類,再用某種手法把他們放回一起。舞蹈也是其中之一的手法?同時也是Jason學生的手語傳譯員Heidi,認為有一定示範作用,但影響有多深遠呢,還是未知之數。

 

一個社會,本來就有各種人,先把某些人抽出來再放回去,究竟算不算得上共融是很吊詭的問題。而當政府還未把香港手語納入為香港法定語言,不承認聾人的聲音,Jason這種以手語入舞的形式,無疑能喚起更多人關注。事實上,自去年六月起,Jason已成了很多香港人口中的「手語哥哥」,而他也打算在未來為香港人做更多,找一個合適的地方,繼續以「舞語」發聲、以生命影響生命。

 

==

文:鬈毛妃

受障人士人權第三倡議人、表演藝術家,近年透過一對一「約會」形式的「表演」,探索人與人之間的關係,思考何謂愛人和愛自己。

[ENG] The voice of Deaf people is a dance -- Jason Wong’s language of dance and inclusion

Original Text: Tomcatt

Sign Interpretation: Heidi Man

Translation: Pomny Chu

 

A Quiet Dance Lesson

Under the purple and red lights, dance performers split into two columns. A song by Sammi Cheng is playing...

 

Writer's descriptive text on Jason's choreography for lyrics from Creo En Mi.

 

Jason Wong’s lesson was very quiet. Participants included Deaf and Hearing people and Japanese who did not speak Chinese. Despite occasionally loud music, most of the time everything was quiet as Jason communicated with participants using Hong Kong Sign Language and body language accompanied by verbal instructions off and on. Everyone had to focus, observe and make every facial expression and movement a meaningful communication. Participants who did not understand Hong Kong Sign Language could look at Jason, the mirror or other participants. Those who could not hear the music could look at Jason, the mirror and others, feel the vibration of the floor and the amplifiers. As I reflected on his lesson, I thought: doesn’t every dance lesson in general work this way -- looking at instructors, the mirror and other students?

 

Jason’s choreography is distinctive, as it combines body language from street dance with Hong Kong Sign Language. This crossover of the two elements gives rise to a new genre of dance, and offers another dimension of artistic interpretation to the chosen music and songs, adding new vocabulary to regular dance language. Among other explorations of meanings and imageries in contemporary dance, Jason’s work offers a new perspective, where for example sign language readers could feel the force of an emerging dimension with the sign language version of Glory to Hong Kong that Jason choreographed. Most importantly, what he produces is down-to-earth creative work. Starting from the perspective of “being human” and focusing on communication, his choreography portrays the gap between Deaf people and other people in daily life, which resembles the gap between the artist and the general audience. We cannot always understand what’s being conveyed across the gap, even when it’s expressed in an open and unreserved way. However, by setting aside our conventional way of thinking, communication should come naturally without us having to try too hard. In this way, inclusion comes into play automatically, without needing to keep talking about it .

 

Jason in sign language dance class with his students, feeling the beat with the amplifier; Photo: Editorial Team of dance journal/hk

 

Jason wanted to challenge himself by studying dance and decided to go to New York to do so. He was determined to embark on a voyage of self-discovery and to find out what he was good at, instead of drifting and wasting his life. Unexpectedly, the biggest challenge he was to face at dance school was not to his body, but because of him being Deaf. The school did not provide Sign Interpretation and most of the time teachers explained things verbally in class. Jason could not get much out of the lessons simply by looking at the instructors, the mirror and his classmates, so in order to study on equal terms with them, Jason asked the school to provide Sign Interpretation. However, the school turned him down, recommending him to either withdraw from his studies or continue with the existing study mode. Jason then started researching laws related to his situation, and came across the Americans with Disabilities Act. With the help of a lawyer working in human rights, whom he met at an equal rights carnival, after three months of negotiation he reached an agreement with the school that he would continue with his studies and the school would provide Sign Interpretation. To achieve inclusion, one must first know what his/her rights are and how to fight for them.

 

There was another incident at the school that really struck Jason. Students had to register for courses early, otherwise they could not get a place. Jason once arrived early for a class and suddenly noticed other students there walking around. He found this strange and asked the staff member at reception what was happening. They had difficulty understanding each other but with some effort, he realized that adjustments to the lesson had just been announced and every student had to register for it again. Jason had not been able to hear the announcement, had waited in vain for the lesson to start and now the class was full. Jason was frustrated and angry. He complained to the school about his upsetting experience. The most ridiculous thing was that the next time he met the same staff member, they started communicating with him in American Sign Language. It turned out that the person knew sign language all along, but did not use it with Jason. Most of the time, Deaf people are “disabled” by people who can hear. It is not that Deaf people are not willing to communicate and listen. It is other people who do not bother to get messages across to them and make the effort to understand them – instead, they simply put all the responsibility for communication on Deaf people.

 

In fact, at schools for Deaf people in the past, students were not allowed to use sign language to communicate. Body language was not encouraged either. Instead, Deaf students were forced to lip read. One of Jason’s students, Baobao, was also Deaf and was all too familiar with people’s misunderstanding of Deaf people. Already an actress, she wanted to eradicate people’s stereotypes of Deaf people through dance. Her social circle was limited to Deaf people because of bigger institutional problems. In Jason’s lessons, she now got to meet more Hearing people. She found that there were also Hearing people who were willing to understand and communicate with Deaf people. Inclusion is achieved by effort from both sides rather than one side working on its own, however hard they try.

 

Jason Wong is one of the choreographer and dancer of Sign Movement, performed at Eaton HK in December 2019; Photo: Xin Li

 

“If I were not Deaf, I would not dance.”

 

People often have stereotypes about Deaf people, for instance that they do not listen to and are not interested in music.

 

Most people tend to think of dance as inseparable from music. Therefore, they wonder how Deaf people can dance without hearing the music. They forget one important thing. Dance itself is about body and rhythm. The rhythm comes from our heartbeats. Jason loves dancing because dancing makes him feel alive and enables him to dream. Seeing heartbeats as the presence of life allows dancers to dance without reserve and wholeheartedly, the more powerful the dance, the faster the heartbeat. Every dance movement comes naturally from the body, driven by the energy pumped from the heart. When Jason says, “if I were not Deaf, I would not dance”, the reason is that he can feel the natural impulse coming from within his body. Feeling the relationship between dance and his own being from the core of his body, he has turned his mother language (Hong Kong Sign Language) into a dance language, merging his identity as a Deaf person and a dance artist into one.

 

To experience something is better than to just listen to what people say about it. Rita, who works in the social welfare sector, recalled that there were usually around 30 to 40 people in dance lessons she used to attend, which meant that the instructor wasn’t really able to cater to everyone’s needs. Students also had little time to interact with others. In Jason’s lessons, where students were fewer, although she did not understand sign language, she was able to get individual guidance from him. Students also ate together after lessons. This is real inclusion with sincere effort being made by everyone involved.

 

People generally understand inclusion in a way that classifies people into various types and then uses certain methods to bring them back together. Dance is one of the methods. Heidi, who was Jason’s student and is a sign language interpreter, agreed that dance was effective as a way to demonstrate inclusion. However, it remains uncertain as to how much dance may influence inclusion.

 

There are different types of people in any society. Separating people into categories then bringing them back together and calling it inclusion is a strange idea. While Hong Kong Sign Language has not been recognized by the Hong Kong Government as one of the official languages of Hong Kong, Jason’s incorporation of sign language into dance has undoubtedly raised public awareness. From June last year onwards, Jason has come to be known to Hong Kong people as “Sign Language Gor Gor[1]”. He plans to develop this direction in relation to Hong Kong people further, to find a suitable context and express ideas through dance, influencing other lives with his own life, using dance language as his voice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] “Gor Gor” spells the pronunciation of elder brother in Cantonese, in this case it refers to Jason being perceived as friendly and cordial, like an older brother. Jason is known as one of the “Sign Language Gor Gor” for his sign-language interpretator role in various Citizens' Press Conferences.

 

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Text:Tomcatt

Third party advocate for persons with disabilities. Performing artist. Recent “performances” explore human relationship and the meaning of love in a one-on-one dating format.

 

 

 

 

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