舞技遺珍

On kings, gods and Cambodia’s enduring dance of perfection柬埔寨「神級」舞蹈

SilkRoad - - CONVERSATION STARTERS 最佳話題 - PRINCE SISOWATH TESSO

WORDS 撰文

you’ll see statues of Apsaras: women wearing traditional attire and an elaborate headdress in an elegant dance pose, their hands flexed backwards in various hand gestures. These spirits of Hindu and Buddhist mythology figure prominently in Cambodian royal ballet, an art form that was nearly lost under the Khmer Rouge regime (1974-1979) – and one that the country has fought to bring back.

Like with Western ballet, the dances performed by the Cambodian Royal Ballet company tell stories through stylised movements and gestures. One difference is that while Western ballet focuses on elevation, Cambodian dancers stand firmly on the floor. They also wear large crowns and ornate costumes. But in both traditions you’ll find a show of strength and grace.

Royal ballet was once only performed for the gods – so it was usually staged in temples. Because kings were considered a sort of reincarnation of gods, the dances were performed in the royal court. Even after the country’s religion changed from Brahmanism to Buddhism, which made the king a representative of his people rather than a godlike figure, the dances were maintained.

The Khmer Rouge regime devastated the arts. Royal ballet survived thanks to a few people who hid their knowledge of the dances and stayed safe. In refugee camps at the Thai border, dance schools were created even while there was not enough to eat. Cambodians wanted to maintain their identity through the arts.

IN CAMBODIA’S TEMPLES,

After the fall of the Khmer Rouge, royal ballet slowly reemerged, although sadly it’s no longer revered as a gift of perfection to the gods. It is listed as a UNESCO Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity, but it is still a vulnerable art. Teachers are getting old. And dance is not an attractive career for young Cambodians, who can find higher earnings in factories, for instance.

Performing abroad gives dancers more income and the pride of being in front of an international audience. In 1970 the Cambodian Royal Ballet took a picture in Times Square on a trip to New York. In 2013 the group did the same. It’s a bittersweet image, knowing what’s been lost, but also what’s been reborn.

Prince Sisowath Tesso is the private assistant to HRH Princess Norodom Buppha Devi, director of the Royal Ballet of Cambodia. The Royal Ballet of Cambodia performs in Hong Kong on 24, 25 and 27 August; hkculturalcentre.gov.hk. The group also performs in Phnom Penh 15-17 December; last2ticket.asia

的廟宇滿佈飛天仙女的塑像,她們無不身穿傳統服裝和設計精美的頭飾,雙手向後伸展,擺出各種手勢,腳踏著優雅的舞步。這一群印度教和佛教神話的神靈,在柬埔寨宮廷舞蹈中盡展其婀娜身影。這種藝術形式在赤柬統治下( 19741979)幾近失傳,猶幸國人力挽狂瀾,使飛天仙女舞蹈重現眼前。

柬埔寨

柬埔寨皇家芭蕾舞團的表演,跟西方芭蕾舞一樣,同樣以抽象的動作和姿態訴說故事。箇中分別在於西方芭蕾舞著重跳躍,而柬埔寨的舞者則站穩在地面,並穿戴大型冠冕和華麗服飾。雖然各有特色,但兩種傳統舞蹈均是力與美的表現。

宮廷舞蹈過往只為神明獻藝,所以通常在廟宇演出,不過由於高棉王亦被認為是天神的轉世,因此表演也會於宮廷舉行。即使柬埔寨的國教由婆羅門教改為佛教,國王亦由神人化作人民的代表,宮廷舞蹈依舊得以保存。

奈何掌權的赤柬嚴重破壞這門藝術,全賴少數有心人隱瞞對宮廷舞蹈的知識才能保住傳統,並使之倖存至今。在泰國邊境的難民營裡,捱飢抵餓的柬埔寨人民仍堅持創辦舞蹈學校,以圖透過這舞藝保存民族身份。

赤柬倒台後,宮廷舞蹈雖已無復完美貢品的地位,可幸得以中興,並獲得聯合國教科文組織列為「人類口述與非物質遺產代表作」。話雖如此,這門藝術仍危如累卵:宮廷舞導師年紀日漸老邁,年輕人對跳舞生涯亦不感興趣,畢竟,她們在工廠工作可賺得更多。

海外演出為舞者帶來更多收入,以及將國技傳遍世界的自豪感。1970年,柬埔寨皇家芭蕾舞團曾踏足紐約,並在時代廣場前留影。2013年,芭蕾舞團在舊地重遊拍照,形成一幅百感交集的畫面,見證往日失去的一切,也標誌著重生的火焰燃起。

Prince SisowathTesso殿下是柬埔寨皇家芭蕾舞團總監HRH Princess Norodom BupphaDevi的私人助理。柬埔寨皇家芭蕾舞團將於8月24、25及27日在香港演出; hkculturalcentre.gov.hk。舞團亦將於12月15至17日在金邊演出; last2ticket.asia

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