“When I’m dancing, a lot of the times everything goes black,” says Shaun Evaristo. “I’m conscious that I’m dancing but I’m not exactly sure what my body is doing. I’m letting the flow kind of take place.”
Evaristo is a world-class dancer and choreographer with an unmatched stage presence. For him, dance is freedom. Once he’s in the zone, nothing else seems to matter, and it shows in the way he moves. There’s an authenticity in the way that he carries himself. His movements seem more like an extension of the music, rather than something that accompanies it. One of the aptest descriptions of his dance explains it as “not an expression of his limbs, but an expression of his heart.” Evaristo’s consultant work for the hit TV show Hot Blood Dance Crew has brought him to China several times in recent years, and on a fair-weathered day in Shanghai, we caught up with him to chat and take a stroll through the city.
舞台上的 Shaun Evaristo，是那一个遥远的身影，自由舞动，旁若无人。你会发现他跳的舞和其他人不太一样，既不炫耀，也不煽情，而是放任身体自然地随着音乐流转，每一次律动都是如此真挚。有人说，他跳的舞“肢体不是动作的出发点，灵魂才是”。菲律宾裔美国籍的 Shaun 是一位世界级的顶尖编舞师和舞者，近年因为参加节目《热血街舞团》的关系频繁来到中国工作。在结束录制工作 Shaun 将回美国的前一天，我们幸运地和他约到采访。
The weather hadn’t yet turned cold on the day we met, and the sun shone with a gentle warmth. As we walked together along the streets of Shanghai, Evaristo was delighted by everyday scenes, like the streetside vegetable vendors or the old woman drinking tea as she stroked the cat at her feet. These scenes—novel for a Filipino American from California—formed the backdrop as he talked about growing up, his family, and what dance means to him.
这一天天气还不太冷，日光和煦，我们一起走在上海的街边，一路上 Shaun 惊奇于那些中国日常的街景，路边叫卖的菜贩、喝茶同时摸着脚边猫咪的老妇，在他眼里看来都是不平凡的风景。我们佐着这些景色，和他从过去聊到现在，那些关于他自己、舞蹈、和生活的吉光片羽。
“I’m just a kid who loves dancing,” Evaristo says, recalling his childhood years in California. As a child, he formed a dance crew with his cousin and a few friends. Recruiting members was easy: Evaristo’s mother made a mean spaghetti that no one could resist. Entire afternoons were whiled away practicing in the garage with his friends. These remain some of Evaristo’s fondest memories. “At ten years old, I knew I wanted to be a choreographer, I just didn’t know what it was called at the time. I invited people over and taught them dance moves that I made up. Seeing their happiness made me happy. It was something I could see myself doing for the rest of my life.”
After high school, Evaristo moved to Los Angeles to pursue his dreams. He didn’t want to be a dancer—he wanted to be a choreographer. “I knew I wanted to do choreography from the very beginning,” he says. “I love dancing, but creating something new is my true passion.
高中毕业后 Shaun 决定搬到洛杉矶，追寻舞蹈生涯。不过并不是以舞者的身份，而是编舞师。“其实打从一开始我就知道我想做的是编舞师。我喜欢跳舞，但创造才是我真正热爱的事情。”他回想起，“十岁时我就在编自己的舞，只是我当时不知道这叫编舞而已。我把学校里一些也喜欢跳舞的小孩找来，教他们我自己设计的舞步。看到他们脸上开心的表情，这让我好快乐。我觉得我可以一辈子都做这件事情。”
Evaristo’s style and approach to choreography are uniquely his own: for him, dancing is the most genuine form of emotional expression, and he uses choreography to plumb the unseen, unquantifiable essence hidden deep inside a person’s heart. “Choreography isn’t just about making up cool moves,” he says. “It’s about self-expression like any other art form—choreography is about opening someone’s mind.”
Our stroll takes us to a traditional market, and Evaristo stops in front of stalls selling vegetables, dried fruit, sundries, and more. Since he can’t speak Chinese, he gesticulates to communicate with the stall owners. Much like his dance, simple movements and a genuine smile expressed much more than words ever could.
In Los Angeles, Evaristo runs the choreography studio The Movement Lifestyle, yet to say that he’s only a choreographer isn’t quite accurate. He also works as a dancer, artistic director, producer, a dance instructor, and more. The studio’s name sums up his life philosophy: he believes that everyone should keep their life in motion by doing what they love. “It’s like painters paint, chefs cook, and I dance. Dancing is a way, not the way. It’s just a tool, a medium. It’s just the first step.”
And the next step? Just to go on living. To keep up the forward momentum, to go on living, taking the bitter with the sweet.
平常 Shaun 在美国洛杉矶经营着编舞工作室 The Movement Lifestyle，此时此刻，只把他看作一位编舞师也不太合适。他身兼编舞师、舞者、艺术指导、制作和舞蹈教学等多种身份，Movement Lifestyle 除了是他工作室的名字，这两个词语动态（Movement）和生活（Lifestyle）也正好解释了他的生活理念——他相信每个人都要借由做着自己热爱的事情，让生活保持在动态之上。“就像画家借由画画，厨师借由料理，而我借由跳舞。舞蹈只是众多保持动态的方式之一，是一个道具，也只是第一步而已。”
Night was falling, and the sunset had slowly tinged the sky a neon color. We were all hungry, so we decided to get some Shanghainese food. We ordered a table full of local delicacies, including an eggplant dish with ground pork. Shaun is usually a vegetarian, so he picked out the minced meat and chowed down. “If I don’t have a more now, I might not be able to get this in the US!” he said.
It was getting late, and our group began to break up and go our separate ways. As we said our goodbyes, Shaun suddenly asked me, “What do you think happiness is?” So we stood by the side of the road, chatting about happiness and ideals. That day ended on this mostly romantic conversation. “Because dancing has changed my life so much, I have this really big want for others to see the same. I believe that art can change the world, I really believe that. Our just is just to do it, to use it, to share it.”