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[中][ENG] 專訪香港芭蕾舞團藝術總監衛承天 Interviewing Septime Webre, Artistic Director of Hong Kong Ballet

衛承天 Septime Webre; 香港芭蕾舞團藝術總監 Artistic Director of Hong Kong Ballet;

攝 Photo: Calvin Sit

 

在香港芭蕾舞團(港芭)的《吉賽爾》首映當晚,我的友人匆匆看完演出後表示雖然這是她第一次觀看港芭的舞台演出,卻感到與這舞團相識已久──事實上,她已有了好幾位喜愛的舞者。在參與了港芭過去一季的快閃活動、公開綵排及教育論壇後,這股熟悉的感覺油然而生,而這些活動在衛承天的帶領下規模不斷增加擴大。

On opening night of Hong Kong Ballet’s Giselle, my friend rifled through the program and commented that, although this was her first main-stage performance, she felt that she already knew the company – in fact, she already had some favorite dancers. That sense of familiarity had developed over a season of attending the company’s pop-up events, open rehearsals, and educational forums, which have snowballed under the leadership of Septime Webre. 

 

在該星期初,我和履職藝術總監一年多的衛承天見面。恰巧《華盛頓郵報》剛刊登了一篇文章,詳談了他來港前領導了十七年,並為之創作了許多精彩劇目的華盛頓芭蕾舞團。

Earlier that week, I caught up with Webre, who is a little over a year into his tenure as Artistic Director. Interestingly, the Washington Post had just published an article about Washington Ballet, which Webre helmed for seventeen years before coming to Hong Kong, and for which he created a number of vivid story ballets. 

 

為令行文更清晰並配合篇幅,下文為我們經過編輯的對談摘錄。

Following are excerpts from our conversation, edited for clarity and length. 

 

 

Carla:《華盛頓郵報》的文章形容你為一個以「建立普及文化、追求當下風格」來吸引芭蕾舞新血的「娛樂家」,與向芭蕾舞狂熱份子大獻殷勤、模仿全球頂尖舞團劇目的繼任人大相逕庭。你對此刻畫有何看法?

Carla: The Washington Post article describes you as a “showman” who “established a populist, of-the-moment style” that attracted newcomers to ballet, in contrast to your successor who is courting ballet aficionados and building a repertory to mirror that of the top companies in the world. What do you think of this characterization? 

 

衛承天:我的確認為我是一個追求普及文化的人,但卻不會簡化迎合。我相信我對偉大的芭蕾舞劇的定義比起一些總監的更廣闊。

Webre: I do think I’m a populist but not one who dumbs things down. I believe that the definition of great ballet is broader than some directors might think. 

 

芭蕾舞是一套流動的語言,可以用來表達很多事情。我相信芭蕾傳統──我們現正演出《吉賽爾》,而自我上任起我們已上演了《唐吉訶德》及《海盜》,下季則計劃演出《天鵝湖》──故我對這些演出劇目很有信心。我亦認為觀眾需要在這些劇目當中觀照自己。他們需要與之連結,並感受劇目與他們的生活息息相關。故此,更重要的是那些劇目在天鵝和巴伐利亞農家女孩以外需要有其他的反照。我們用芭蕾舞的語言來反映那些與當代全球公民生活更有關連的事物。而這種語言與英文、中文和他加祿語同樣流動。一樣的語言曾被莎士比亞、埃米莉.狄更生、《瘋狂雜誌》及一首當代的饒舌樂曲使用。我們能流利地說這套語言,並應用於無數情景至關重要。

Ballet is a fluid language that can be used to express a lot of different things. And I believe in ballet’s traditions – we’re presenting Giselle right now, and since I’ve been here we’ve presented Don Quixote and Le Corsaire, and next season we’re planning a Swan Lake – so I believe in this repertoire. But I also believe that audiences need to see themselves in the repertoire. They need to connect to it and they need to feel that it’s pertinent to their lives. And so, it’s important that the repertoire also reflects other things in addition to swans and peasant girls in Bavaria… that we use the language of ballet to reflect things that are a bit more connected to the lives of contemporary citizens of the world. And the language is as fluid as English or Chinese or Tagalog. The same language was used by Shakespeare and Emily Dickinson and Mad Magazine and a contemporary rap song. It’s important that we speak it fluently and in lots of different ways.

 

更具體地說,我認為芭蕾舞應迎向所有人。而我在香港和在華盛頓芭蕾舞團時的哲學如出一轍,就是我們應上演形形色色的芭蕾舞劇,包括足本的十九世紀作品,巴蘭奇和羅賓斯的舞蹈,以及委約現代創作,但舞團應要反映出其身處城市的活力。

Even more specifically, I think ballet’s got to be open to everyone. And my philosophy in Hong Kong and at Washington Ballet was that we need to do all kinds of different ballets and that meant doing full length 19th century work, doing [George]Balanchine and [Jerome] Robbins, and it also means commissioning works of today. But the energy of the company needs to feel like it’s reflective of the energy of the city in which it lives.

 

 

你怎樣實踐這哲學?

In what ways are you doing this?

 

我們每月都舉行大型戶外演出的快閃活動。你有參觀過大館(前中區警署和域多利監獄建築群,為香港其中最重要的歷史古蹟)嗎?那實在太令人難以置信了。我們將在週末(11月17-18日)上演一場有活力並遊走整個建築群的環境演出。屆時公眾可免費入場──此為我們「芭蕾四圍舞」計劃的一部分。

We’re doing pop-ups monthly – large-scale outdoor performances. Have you visited Tai Kwun [the restored Central Police Station and Victoria Prison compound, one of Hong Kong’s most important remaining historic buildings]? It’s outrageous. We’re doing a site-specific installation on a Saturday and Sunday [Nov. 17-18] that activates the whole place. It’ll be free to the public – [part of what we’ve called] Ballet in the City

 

我們亦在新界舉辦快閃活動。我們將有一個週日活動在中環舉行,活動會以廣東話、英語和他加錄語旁述,因為有很多菲律賓女傭在該處渡過星期日。她們是香港少被關注的一群,但若沒有她們,這座城市便會停止運行。我們希望能與這城市緊扣,成為不可或缺的一部分。

We’re also doing pop-up performances in the New Territories. We’re doing one in Central on a Sunday that will be narrated in Cantonese, English and Tagalog because that’s an area where so many Filipina domestic workers spend their Sundays. They’re an underserved population in the city, yet the city would stop without its domestic workers. We want to be pertinent and important to every aspect of the city. 

 

我們正編排在不同屋苑的快閃演出,亦將在港鐵站推行一個名為「週五芭蕾邂逅」的計劃──因為我們在幕後創作的過程是不被外界看見的,便欲一改作風。每逢週五,我們會到不同港鐵站,在鋼琴伴奏下進行四十五分鐘扶把練習,作為一種藝術裝置。

We’re scheduling pop-up performances in various housing estates. We’re launching a project called Friday Night Barre in the MTR – because our process is so hidden from the world, we’re doing something to change that. We’ll install ourselves in different MTR stations on Fridays and literally do a forty-five minute barre with a live piano, as an art installation. 

 

還有上個月的「香港酷」。這製作是由七位本港的編舞家各創作一齣世界首演新作,每位編舞家會與另一位藝術家──如時裝設計師、作曲家、畫家、錄像藝術家等合作。作品皆少於十分鐘,屬短篇作品。來年我們應會集中與時裝設計師和作曲家合作,並減少參與的編舞家數量,令每個作品可長一些,並將創作意念深化一些。

Then there’s Hong Kong Cool. The format we did a month ago featured seven world premieres by seven Hong Kong-based choreographers, each in collaboration with an artist – fashion designer, composer, painter, video artist, and so on. The works were under ten minutes long, a short format. Next year we will likely focus on fashion designers and composers, and have fewer choreographers, allowing each piece to be a little bit longer, to develop ideas a little bit further. 

 

港芭在大館的演出 HKB’s performance at Tai Kwun;

攝 Photo: Conrado Dy-Liacco

 

港芭在大館的演出 HKB’s performance at Tai Kwun;

攝 Photo: Conrado Dy-Liacco

 

 

你的資金如何維持這些甚具野心的冒險?

How is your funding keeping up with these ambitious ventures?

 

自我到來,香港政府一直給予很多支持。我們獲得了為期兩年的新資金去發展「芭蕾四圍舞」──讓我們向外發展、令香港人認識我們,使我們更能進入大家的視野,這正是計劃的精神。

The Hong Kong Government has been really supportive since my arrival. We won two years of new funding to develop Ballet in the City – to get us out, to get people of Hong Kong to see us, for us to be a bit more in-your-face. That was the spirit of it. 

 

此外,政府最近亦宣佈給予更多年度資助予包括香港芭蕾舞團的主要藝團。我們實際地從政府得到了比去年更多的年度資金。

In addition, the government has just recently announced a growth in their annual support to companies like Hong Kong Ballet. We are actually getting more now from the government in our annual funding than we did a year ago.

 

亦可能部份因我們多了曝光,所以我們的訂票率相較去年同期的增加了127%。

And, probably in part because we’re all around the place now, our subscriptions are up 127% from one year ago today. 

 

《吉賽爾》亦比去年的《海盜》及《唐吉訶德》熱賣。這並非因為演出更震撼人心;而是我認為我們成功令香港人覺得港芭是一個正在掘起的舞團。

And Giselle has sold better than Le Corsaire did last year and Don Quixote did before that. It’s not that the productions are more eye-popping; I think we’re starting to be successful in getting Hong Kong to feel that we’re a company on the rise.

《唐吉訶德》Don Quixote;

攝 Photo: Conrado Dy-Liacco

《吉賽爾》Giselle; 攝Photo: Conrado Dy-Liacco

 

 

巡演是首要目標嗎?巡演會集中在中國,還是全球的舞蹈要塞?

Is touring a priority? And is the touring focus on China, or the world’s dance capitals? 

 

我們的任務是佔領全球!

Our mission is global domination!

 

我們的目標是在香港受珍視,並在全球被視為一個強勢的國際舞團。我們已是亞洲其中一個舉足輕重的芭蕾舞團;我們亦希望人們覺得我們是高瞻遠矚的。

Our goal is to be cherished in Hong Kong and recognized as an international powerhouse around the world. We’re already one of the premier ballet companies in Asia; we would also like to be known as the most forward-looking. 

 

人們可以隨他們所想,書寫有關我們的一切──但若芭蕾舞界的意見領袖在不同城市都看見我們蹤影,就是最有效地影響國際芭蕾對我們論述。

And people can write about us all they want – but that impact on the global discourse about ballet is most effective if influencers in ballet can see us in different cities. 

 

我們在剛過去的三月去了歐洲巡演,包括柏林、波恩及馬德里。我們下月會到台灣,下年秋季則會去上海。我們亦正籌備2020年春季到北美演出四星期。

We just had a tour of Europe this past March that included Berlin, Bonn, and Madrid. We’ll be in Taiwan next month. Shanghai next fall. And we’re working on a four-week tour of North America for spring 2020.

 

 

現時港芭有一半團員皆來至中國,而大約70%的群舞領舞員或更高等級的舞蹈員都來自中國。

Currently about half of the company are from mainland China. Of the principal through coryphée ranks, about 70% are from the mainland. 

 

有一個充份的理由導致這個現象,就是那裏有全亞洲最佳的訓練,他們亦非常敬業。

There’s a really good reason for that. The best training in Asia is there. And their work ethic is excellent. 

 

 

只有六位香港出生的舞者,當中三人為實習生,你有計劃增加人數嗎?

Only six dancers are Hong Kong-born, three of them in the apprentice ranks. Do you have plans to grow that number?

 

的而且確,提高團員中的香港舞者成份仍然是我們有待達成的目標。為了協助香港的導師及扶助年輕有為的準專業舞者,我們和香港演藝學院建立了深厚的新合作關係,讓仍在習舞的學生能接觸專業舞者的生活──這意味着大師班、導師指引、演出機會、劇目的周邊工作坊等等──以加強舞蹈學生以芭蕾為職業的準備。

Indeed, it continues to be a goal to have Hong Kong strongly represented among our ranks. To help mentor and support promising young pre-professional dancers in Hong Kong, we’ve developed a deep, new partnership with the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts (HKAPA) to provide access to professional life while dancers are still training – this means masterclasses, mentoring, performing opportunities, repertory classes, and such – aimed at bolstering dance students’ preparedness for a career in ballet.

 

 

你認為一個舞者須具備什麼特質?

What do you look for in a dancer? 

 

精湛的技巧及美妙的身體線條。

Exquisite technique. And great line. 

 

我認為多元很重要。故此,就舞者的特質我並不會一刀切,要求舞者有一個某一種模樣。我來自美國,那裏是一個大熔爐。我離開華盛頓芭蕾舞團時,我們當時都相信我們是世上種族最多元的芭蕾舞團。

I believe in diversity. So, I’m less of a cookie-cutter kind of guy in terms of what dancers look like. I come from the U.S. which was a melting pot. When I left Washington Ballet we believed we were the most ethnically diverse ballet company in the world. 

 

多元在這裏的意思有些不同。香港是一座融合城市──亞洲國際都會──這與現代性正好不謀而合。港芭應當反映香港是誰,以及香港是什麼。

Diversity here means something different. Hong Kong is a fusion city – Asia’s world city – that really pulses with modernity. Hong Kong Ballet should reflect who Hong Kong is and what Hong Kong is about. 

 

我認為香港電影就是港芭劇目能夠反映的香港文化例子之一,特別香港是主要的電影出口城市。

Among the ways in which I think Hong Kong Ballet will reflect Hong Kong culture in its repertoire has to do with Hong Kong being an important exporter of great films, for example.  

  

 

你對節目的願景取決於舞團內外的編舞家來達成。

Your vision for programming ropes in choreographers from outside and inside the company. 

 

任何單一個節目都不能描述一個舞團,但你可以透過一整個舞季去來做到此事。

Any given program is not going to tell the story of a company. But you want a whole season to do that. 

 

對我來說,委約舞團內的編舞家很重要。我們有兩位才華橫溢的編舞家──胡頌威和江上悠。我的前任歐美蓮在過去數年一直培養他們的才能。我委約了他們與香港管弦樂團在今季末共同合作,上演以史特拉汶斯基《春之祭》為音樂的舞蹈作品。

Commissioning in-house choreographers is important to me. We have two really gifted choreographers – Ricky Hu and Yuh Egami. My predecessor Madeleine Onne really nurtured their talent over the last few years. They’re doing a big project with the Hong Kong Philharmonic at the end of this season, Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, which I commissioned. 

 

至於舞團外的委約,我不太傾向委約那些創作敘述性作品的編舞家,因為這正是我會創作的作品類型。我用芭蕾舞的語言和技巧、當代的設計和劇場意念,將傑出的文學作品和電影改編成長篇芭蕾舞劇,而這正正是我的領域。故此,我希望能夠有其他人加入,用我沒用過的方法推動我們的舞者。

With commissions from the outside, I generally don’t look to those choreographers to make narrative work, because that’s what I do. I adapt great works of literature and film to full-length ballets using ballet language and technique, contemporary ideas of design and theater, and that’s my niche. So, I want other voices to come in to push our dancers in ways I don’t already. 

 

 

芭蕾舞團委約非芭蕾舞編舞家正是潮流所趨,你也打算這樣做嗎?

It's a growing trend for ballet companies to commission works from choreographers who come from outside the ballet world. Are you doing this?

 

當我仍是一名年輕的舞者時,芭蕾舞總監希望能從現代舞得到啟發。那時他們都注意保羅.泰勒和艾文.艾利,而特威拉.塔爾普則從後現代舞轉投了芭蕾舞。

When I was a young dancer, ballet directors were looking to modern dance for ideas. Back in the day, they were looking to Paul Taylor and to Alvin Ailey. And Twyla Tharp was leaving postmodern dance and coming to ballet. 

 

芭蕾舞技巧在過去二十年進步得很快──我覺得我有責任推動我們的技巧。我亦認為我們的工作能挑戰舞者的技藝,以及幫助舞者更認識他們的身體也相當重要。這能帶動芭蕾舞的論述,並將芭蕾舞帶到二十一世紀,所以我更傾向那些挑戰芭蕾舞者技巧的作品。例如在接下來的大約六個月,我們將呈獻一台三演製作,其中包括賈斯汀.佩克、韋恩.麥葛萊格,以及胡頌威和江上悠的世界首演新作。賈斯汀.佩克正在創作一些令人讚嘆的作品,他對芭蕾舞技巧認識極深,能有效推動芭蕾舞技巧和舞者進步。而雖然韋恩.麥葛萊格具當代舞背景,但他的《色飽和度》實以技巧為主。

Ballet technique has advanced so quickly in the last twenty years – I feel that I have a responsibility to move our technique forward. And I think it’s really important that much of what we do that’s new challenges both the dancers’ artistry and technique, and helps them understand their physicality better; helps move the discourse on ballet, and helps bring ballet into the 21st century. So, I’m more oriented toward work that challenges the dancers’ ballet technique. For example, in about six months, we have a big triple bill with premieres by Justin Peck and Wayne McGregor, and the world premiere by Ricky Hu and Yuh Egami. Justin Peck is doing amazing stuff because he understands ballet technique so well, his work pushes it forward and pushes the dancers. And Chroma by Wayne McGregor, while he comes from contemporary dance, is in fact so technically based. 

 

我亦正與亞歷山大.艾克曼洽談,在這裏上演他其中一齣重要作品。他是芭蕾舞界的人物,但冒犯地說他也是離經叛道的顛覆者。

I’m also talking with Alexander Ekman to stage one of his big works here. He’s a guy from ballet, but in a cheeky way is a disruptor.  

 

 

你現時最大的挑戰是什麼?

What is your single biggest challenge at the moment?  

 

我希望能竭盡所能,令觀眾投入並為之感到興奮及成為我們的一份子。

I want to push the envelope as much as I can in a manner that the audience comes with us and feels excited and feels part of things. 

 

舞團現在財政穩健,大受政府及社區支持並持續增長。我們打算擴大規模。我需要研究如何充分利用現有的機會,在如何為觀眾帶來新事物而又不嚇怕他們之間取得平衡,使他們感到自己可參與。

The company is financially stable, has a lot of support from the government and from the community, and that support is growing. We’re expanding the size of the tent. I need to figure out how to maximize the opportunity that’s there, striking the right balance of how much new to bring to the audience but not scare them off, make them feel welcomed. 

 

「香港酷」中的《石碑》Monolith in Hong Kong Cool; 創作者 Creators: 尊尼芬.斯納 Jonathan Spigner and 曾敏富 Matthew Tsang Man-Fu;

攝 Photo: Conrad Dy-Liacco

 

「香港酷」中的《無字的信》Wordless Letter in Hong Kong Cool; 舞者 Dancers: (後 back) 奧利華 Forrest Rain Oliveros, (前 front)陳稚瑶 Chen Zhiyao; 創作者 Creators: 江上悠 Yuh Egami, 葉志聰 Mike Yip, 江景先 James Kong;

攝 Photo: Conrad Dy-Liacco

 

 

香港有什麼事物是你始料未及,感到驚訝的嗎?

Is there something about Hong Kong that has surprised you, that you didn’t realize or expect when you first arrived? 

 

現時這裏有很多正面的能量。在搬來這裏前,我從《紐約時報》及《華盛頓郵報》了解香港和中國的觀點和我的經歷並不相符。這裏瀰漫着輕鬆愉快和樂觀的情緒,藝術機構和主要的參與者都能各司其職,各安其位。

There’s a lot of positive energy here at the moment. Before moving here, I read about Hong Kong and China in the New York Times and Washington Post and got a point of view that’s different from what I’ve experienced. There’s a buoyancy and optimism about this place, a sense that a number of the arts institutions, the major players, are in a good place right now. 

 

 

而且這裏「一試無妨」的心態亦在我意料之外。嘗試新事物的意願實在非常強烈。

And there’s a can-do mentality at a level that I didn’t expect. The willingness to do new things has been really great.

 

香港芭蕾舞團一眾藝術人員和舞蹈員 Artistic members and dancers of Hong Kong Ballet;

攝 Photo: Calvin Sit

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