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Dance rebel with a cause

Dance pioneer Angela Liong is a self-confessed rebel whose company does not just do dances

Published on Aug 25, 2014 4:47 PM

On her first day at work as a choreographer at the then Singapore Broadcasting Corporation in 1984, all eyes were on dance pioneer Angela Liong.

"I was in my hotpants. Nowadays, girls wear hotpants, but you should have seen my hotpants, okay! I wore no bra, a loose top, carried a huge dance bag and marched right into SBC," she recalls, chuckling at the memory.

"People went 'ahh?' But I was a dancer, what do you think?"

Three decades on, her rebellious streak is still as strong as ever. The 63-year-old is now the full-time artistic director of The Arts Fission Company, one of the oldest and most unorthodox contemporary dance groups in Singapore. Alongside regular performances, the group also takes part in medical research, runs visual arts classes for children and conducts creative movement-based therapy for the elderly.

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Background story

My life so far

“We’re not a conventional dance company and I’d like to think we represent a new age of dance company. We don’t just train dancers and dance. You can be a dance artist and benefit other communities with your craft. You can still do cuttingedge work, it does not diminish what you do by getting involved with other aspects of society.”

Angela Liong, on Arts Fission

“I played housewife, in the sense that I just needed to cook for my man, read the newspapers, cut out coupons to buy cheap groceries. I hated it. Then I knew that that was the last thing I wanted to do, no housewife for me.”

Liong, on her year spent in Washington DC just after marriage, in which she did not work

“Like it or not, most of the work is supposed to be popular, commercial. I think initially it was a shock. You’re supposed to choreograph a bunch of dancers behind the singer, but they don’t shoot the dance, they just zoom in on the singer. Then why am I here? I remember I used to have fights with the producers all the time.”

On working in television