（原文刊於2005年《舞蹈手札》第七冊第五及第六期 Originally published on dance journal/hk 7-5 and 7-6 in 2005）
多年來教授大專學生及專業舞者的經驗常叫筆者感到沮喪：很多學生似乎認為他們的訓練應全專注於身體的機械性鍛鍊上 ——一些有如解剖學般仔細的舞蹈細節，例如如何做到完美的芭蕾舞步Arabesque ，或於一次跳躍中多次拍腿，或如何於某一動作中盡量把腿提高。他們看不到整件事的全面：他們似乎不知到舞蹈同時也是有關人類的達意和聯繫——如何掌握空間、使觀眾投入、觸動人心。舞蹈是有關不同概念的連結，並懂得如何將之傳達。
I have been teaching contemporary dance to college students and professional dancers for years, and I'm frustrated. Many dance students seem to think that the focus of their training should be all about mechanics - all about the anatomical details of dance, such as how they do the perfect arabesque or multiple beats in a jump or how they get their legs as high as possible in specific positions. They don't look at the big picture: they don't seem to realize that dance is also about human expression and connection - about commanding a space, engaging an audience, moving someone. Dance is about making connections between ideas and knowing how to communicate them.
The students' perspective reminds me of the current yoga fad: you see photos on billboards and magazine covers showing bodies in extreme stretches and in extreme positions, twisting themselves into pretzels. Everyone's doing all these tricks, trying to get their legs to touch their ears, as though if they mimic these extreme physical positions, they've understood and mastered yoga. But yoga has many more layers - it's an ancient philosophy about integrating physical and mental health. It's not about turning your body into a machine (most people's bodies don't have the ability to get into those positions, anyway). You don't need your body to be the perfect machine to be a great yogi. And dancers don't need to be perfect machines to be great performers.
When you think of all the ways that a dancer can engage an audience, the mechanics are important, but they're only part of it. People go to see the multiple turns and high jumps, but the same audience, the public, also wants to be moved. They want to see art, they want to be changed in some way, they want to be challenged, and mechanics can't do that alone. In fact, mechanics are something that dancers often hide behind - they don't have to be brave about being expressive people, and maybe revealing their vulnerability. Being a good performer requires a deeper kind of involvement than attention to mechanical details, it requires an awareness of what you're trying to communicate. It's a whole other part of human expression that's not as tangible as the mechanics, so it's harder to define - but to me it's even more important.
But when many students enter a technique class, their minds are only on the mechanics —the parts of the body they can see and touch, the nuts and bolts, the anatomy of muscles and bones one can visualize. This perspective causes two problems: First, some students graduate from college and begin a career in dance with only a limited sense of what dancing is really about: they have strong mechanics — they can do the multiple turns and high leg positions — but they aren't interesting to watch.
Another group of students decide that they aren't good at the mechanics — they can't do enough turns and the arches of their feet aren't high enough or they can't pick up the combinations fast enough — so they decide they're not going to make it as performers in the dance world. They give up. They drop out. Often when I meet with these students, I ask them. "What do you see yourself doing in the future? "Almost 100 percent of them admit, "I'd love to be a performer, but I don't think I'm good enough — so I think I'll try teaching or doing choreography or something in dance administration." Many times. a lot of these students who don't have super mechanical facilities are incredible performers. They're often more engaging on stage than someone who's mechanically proficient.
在我所教的學生中， 大部份沈迷於機械體能的原因是他們想要簡單的「正確答案」： 他們想要的，就只是老師給他們成為偉大舞者的最直接而又可掌握的資料，沒有其它。他們想要的，是一些詳細步驟，讓他們逐步砌合起來，達到他們那清楚介定的目標，就像組合一張「宜家」傢俬的桌子般。只要你懂得一、二、三，你便會成為傑出的舞者。
The majority of students who've been in my classes have been obsessed with mechanics because they want the right answer: they want teachers to give them the tangible information they need to be great dancers. Period. They want precise procedures that they can piece together to achieve their definable goals - like instructions to assembling a desk from IKEA. If you do ABC, you will be a great dancer.
This is the mentality, a pervasive mentality, which they apply to all their subjects in their education. Part of the fault has been traditional systems of education and how these systems were set up: multiple-choice tests, true or false tests, you pick the right answer and you get the right grade. The system doesn't teach people to think and relate ideas, it teaches them to memorize. So it's not totally the students' fault – it's been ingrained.
A good example is the way history has been taught. The history courses I've taken were about remembering names and dates over huge spans of time. The students who were good at memorizing would do well on the multiple choice and true-or-false tests and get good grades. But many of them didn't grasp the bigger picture – they couldn't talk about the context, the connections between the art, the politics, the sociology and the culture of that time.
Merely memorizing the names and dates is like understanding the mechanics of history. The parallel to this in the dance studio is a student who moves across the room in a series of well-memorized positions with no relationship between the positions – a mechanical understanding of dance.
Here's an example: Just this past semester, I was in the middle of teaching a movement phrase that was designed to practice the feeling of circularity and continuity. One of the most mechanically proficient students in the class was having trouble completing a full circle. During the turning part of the phrase, where her torso should have been moving through a spiral, she would suddenly break the continuity to display her extended leg, and she would ask, "Should my leg be placed in second position here?" It was as if she kept pausing a video to focus on one frame in a two-minute movement sequence, when the goal of my exercise was not any one position but a quality of continuous motion. Even when I demonstrated the exercise, I could see her trying to break it down into separate technical and mechanical positions. The technique I was trying to teach — moving through a sequence with a lush ease as if there are no transitions — is one of the most important achievements for a dancer. Another student, who's usually quiet and doesn't ask a lot of mechanical questions and almost never even looks at herself in the mirror, immediately picked up the exercise through understanding the bigger idea of moving with a sense of connectivity. There was a quality of effortlessness and not one position spoke louder than another. The motion of the spiral was executed and communicated beautifully. I didn't recall whether she moved through second position - and don't see why it would be relevant to extract and identify. I have never had more than two students out of thirty who can absorb movement qualities this way.
學生過度關心機械性技術的另一個跡象，可從他們在課堂中所提的問題中看到。每個動作意念或動作段落都有很多不同的質素——能量、空間方向、所傳達的意義、與重力的關係、音樂感或時間性等等，但他們所問的卻總是機械性的： 「右腿應轉出還是轉入？ 」「這是甚麼芭蕾舞步？ 」「轉多少轉？ 」。我甚少聽到「這段的感覺應是如何？ 」「這動作如何關連到下一個？ 」「處理這個意念時， 有什麼適合的影像可作參考？ 」或類似的問題。
Another sign that students are too concerned with the mechanics is the kind of questions that are asked in class. While every movement idea or sequence has a qualitative energy, a spatial direction, an expression, a relationship to gravity, a sense of musicality or timing etc., the questions are always mechanical. "Is the right leg turned out or in? Is that in coupé or posé? Is this a piqué or relevé? How many turns?" Etc. I almost never get questions like "What is the feeling of this phrase?" "How does this movement relate to the following movement?" "What is a good image I can work with for this idea?"
The kind of questions that are focused on qualitative relationships and bigger ideas encompass much more than (but don't exclude) mechanics. It takes time and focus to achieve this kind of dancing. A performer that can just stand in the space and be riveting is a dancer with great technique - and this ability has little to do with mechanics. I am engaged by performers who enter the space with a sense of presence and purpose, who draw us into an experience that has a life of its own, whose movements are interrelated in a seamless continuum and who relate to the music as if they are the music. When a dancer moves like this, no one will recall whether her arms were in fifth or her leg in attitude or foot flexed or pointed - who cares!
OK- so how do we do this? How do we take a technique class and not only focus on the mechanical parts? How can anyone think about fifteen different objectives all at once? I admit it sounds daunting.
The most important idea to remember is to stay open. Learning to be a performer is a process. For generations of students who are obsessed with the 'right answer', this is a big challenge. When three different teachers give you three different answers to the same question it's not to confuse you about which one is the right answer. Your teachers are all different people with different experiences. Different strategies work for different bodies and minds. Your job is to take in all the information and find what works for you.
In terms of changing your focus from only the mechanics to the bigger picture, try working with the idea of synergy. Synergy is the phenomenon of multiple parts working together to produce a greater effect than what is possible by the individual parts. This quality can often be triggered by mental images. Images can effectively incorporate the whole body in full and specific expression. While there are many movement systems out there that use images as inspiration to move in a more creative, incorporative and efficient way, these philosophies are usually isolated as support subjects or alternative approaches to movement and don't typically make it into technique class.
For example, if you find yourself staring blankly in the mirror during a developé -tilting and tucking your pelvis as you tensely muscle your leg as high as possible - you need to change your mental focus. Try considering the energy of your entire body slowly rising and opening like bubbles in a glass of champagne as your hip opens and your leg floats up through the ceiling. The latter approach is much more fun to do, and you can imagine which one is more fun to watch.
The simple movements are the most challenging. When reaching the toes forward on the floor in a tendu, it's not only to practice the movement of that leg, but also to practice the act of reaching. When you reach for a book on the top shelf of a bookcase you don't just use your arm, you use your back, your eyes, pelvis, ankle - your whole body.
This is the best part; working with synergy doesn't mean that the mechanics are forgotten. The mechanics become incorporated into an expressive sequence and are not addressed as isolated moments. Each rotation, balance, pointed foot is integrated into a larger movement concept. The only difference is you start from the larger concept instead of the pointed foot.
最後，舞蹈學生要常常緊記，舞蹈室中的練習和工作是一種藝術的嘗試。要超越舞蹈員而成藝術家，就要進入更深的層次。像很多寫作有關藝術體驗的哲學家一般，John Dewey 指出「如果他的理解在本質上不含美學，那會是一種無色而冰冷的認識，用以作為一個機制，以實質上是機械性的程序來啟動下一步。」1要以美學來處理在舞蹈室中的練習和工作，我們就要加強在認知結構（形態）元素時的敏感度——傑出的藝術擁有傑出的形態。形態創造出結構，予藝術家來創作完整的意念，就如一些舞蹈，在整齣作品中都貫穿了一些可以見到或感覺到的特質——有一種起承轉合的感覺。「⋯⋯因為不斷的融合，我們在體驗時沒有空隙、剪接和盲點。有的是停頓和歇息的空間，起著標點般的作用，介定了動作的素質。」2
Lastly, students of dance need to keep in mind that our work in the studio is an artistic endeavor. To cross the line between a dancer and an artist means going deeper. Like many philosophers who write about the experience of art, John Dewey writes "... if his perception is not also aesthetic in nature, it is a colorless and cold recognition of what has been done, used as a stimulus to the next step in a process that is essentially mechanical."1 To approach our work in the studio aesthetically means heightening our sensitivity to perceive the elements of composition — the form — and great art has great form. It is form that creates the structures that allow artists to create complete ideas, like dances that embody a quality that can be seen or felt throughout the entire work - a sense of beginning, middle and end. "...because of continuous merging, there are no holes, mechanical junctions, and dead centers when we have an experience. There are pauses, places of rest, but they punctuate and define the quality of movement." 2
因此，習舞的學生們：下次上技巧課時， 嘗試以具協作效益的焦點來處理。嘗試忘記自己正被評分。暫時不要被日常生活的細節防礙了身體內的能力。提醒自己並不只是任由編舞家操弄的機械工具。 作為人類，要成為盛載身體情感的器皿，我們就要讓機械因素達到更大的目的 。就如Dewey 所說：「藝術家的手和眼並不會單獨操作——藉著這些工具， 整個能走能動的生物得以運作。所以，身體情感是情緒化的，並由目的所指引。」3
So, students of dance: The next time you go to technique class, try working with a synergistic focus. Try to forget that you are being graded. Don't let the details of your daily life hinder your ability to be in your body — in the moment. Remind yourself that we are not just mechanical instruments for choreographers to manipulate. In order to be a vessel for expression as human beings we have to allow the mechanics to serve a greater purpose. As Dewey put it; "Hand and eye to an artist do not work alone - they are but instruments through which the entire live creature, moved and active throughout, operates. Hence the expression is emotional and guided by purpose." 3
Remember that our presence as human beings is fundamentally what dance is based on. As expressive beings we carry the power to create and communicate incredible experiences - not just with our bodies - but with our ability to use our imagination and create connections between ideas. And for those of you who think you will never make it because you can't pull off four pirouettes, remember that there are artists who can engage an entire theater full of people by just standing in the space- so work on that. And maybe most importantly, keep the big picture present at all times. As Monroe Beardley writes; "If some of the satisfyingness of the end could be brought into the means, and the means at every stage felt as carrying the significance of the end, we should have in life something more of the quality of aesthetic experience itself. Meanwhile, such experience holds before us a clue to what life can be like in its greatest richness and joy.” 4
John Dewey (1995). "Having an Experience" in The Philosophy of Art: Readings Ancient and Modern, edited by Alex Nell and Aaron Ridley, New York: McGraw-Hill, pg. 69
ibid p. 61
ibid pg. 70
Monroe C. Beardsley (1995). "The Arts in the Life of Man" in The Philosophy of Art: Readings Ancient and Modern, edited by Alex Nell and Aaron Ridley. New York: McGraw-Hill, pg. 538
編輯手記 Editor's Note
羅傑索(Rob Kitsos)的這文章雖然以「技巧課」為題，但討論的是超越肢體活動的舞蹈表演層次，值得專業者細閱思考，也可以幫助一般觀眾認識和欣賞舞蹈這門藝術。曾任香港演藝學院現代舞系高級講師的羅傑索，現為西門菲莎大學（Simon Fraser University）當代藝術學院（School for the Contemporary Arts）的教授暨副總監。他於文中指出由於傳統教學制度注重記誦及以目標為本，眾多習舞的學生（甚至舞者）都只追求機械性的技巧而輕視舞蹈作為藝術的表演性及傳意，更提出練習建議。
最近幾個月疫情期間，網上流傳著「無法外出，就往內觀」(If you can’t go outside, go inside)。這篇文章也許能為不同層面的讀者帶來一點啟示，並借全球停擺的時機，檢視及探索身體的運用和各種變化，改變固有模式，讓身心好好相處。
Rob Kitsos is a former senior lecturer in the Department of Modern Dance at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, Kitsos is now a professor and associate director of the School for the Contemporary Arts at Simon Fraser University in Canada. Although the words “technique class” appear in the title, the central idea of the article is that performance level of dance goes beyond technique or mere physical movement. Kitsos provides ideas for professionals to reflect upon which can also help the general audience to understand and appreciate the art of dance. In the article, he points out that because of the memorization-focused and goal-oriented traditional teaching system, many dance students (and even dancers) only pursue the mechanics of movement and ignore the performance and expression aspects of dance as an art form. Some exercise suggestions are also put forward.
During the ongoing coronavirus epidemic, the idea “If you can’t go outside, go inside” has been much advocated on the internet. We hope that this article may bring some inspiration to readers from all dance and non-dance backgrounds, and help them to take the opportunity provided by the global shutdown to examine and explore the use of their bodies and the variations in them, to change long-held habits and methods of moving, and to better connect their bodies with their minds.
客席編輯Guest Editor: 劉秀群Cathy Lau Sau Kwan