Going onstage (www.esplanade.com).

Dance

Angela Liong

A key figure in Singapore's contemporary dance scene

Calendar

Published: 12 Oct 2016


Time taken : >15mins

I look at myself as a dance journalist. I use movement to express, to record and document the pulses of Asia.

NAC Arts Awards interview, 2011.

Angela Liong is a key figure in the Singapore contemporary dance scene. Trained in the USA, she developed Singapore’s first formal, structured tertiary-level dance programmes at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts and LASALLE College of the Arts, helping to cultivate generations of young contemporary dance talent. Liong also co-founded Singapore’s first multidisciplinary contemporary dance company, The ARTS FISSION Company, raising the profile of contemporary dance in performances that focused on current issues and traditional stories. In 2009, Liong received the Cultural Medallion for her contributions to dance in Singapore.

Born in Canton, China in 1951, Angela Liong grew up in Des Moines, Iowa, USA, in a family who had strong Confucian beliefs. Her love for the arts meant she dabbled in numerous art forms before setting her sights on dance. At 17, Liong spent a year in a music conservatory in Iowa training to be an opera singer before studying dance in the ‘70s and ‘80s. She enrolled in a dance course at esteemed Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance in New York City in 1980, and graduated from the University of Mississippi with a Master of Arts in English and Dance in 1982.

In 1984, Liong moved to Singapore and obtained permanent residency the following year while working as a choreographer for the Singapore Broadcasting Corporation. In 1989, she was invited to set up Singapore’s first professional full-time dance diploma programme at Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, which she headed till 1996. In 1997, she became the dean of the School of the Performing Arts at the LASALLE College of the Arts and established the first Singapore dance degree programme, which was offered in affiliation with Queensland Technological University, Australia. Both academic initiatives facilitated the formal and professional development of Singapore’s young contemporary dance scene.

During that period, in 1994, Liong also co-founded Singapore’s first multidisciplinary contemporary dance company together with Singapore visual artist, S. Chandrasekaran. Named The ARTS FISSION Company, the non-profit organisation was a pioneer in contemporary dance theatre, conducting site-specific performances in Singapore and other countries.

These included performances on the 35th rooftop floor of a CBD skyscraper (Urban Sanctuary: The Floating Stage Series, 2000); in a bamboo village in Yogyakarta, Indonesia (Borrowed Scenery, 2002); in an open 40-foot trailer in four different community centres (Dances From the Moon, 2009); in the National Geographic store in VivoCity shopping mall (The Weather Station, 2009); and in the void deck of Aljunied Community Centre (Void Deck Theatre: The Walking Fish Story, 2010).

In almost two decades as the company’s artistic director and choreographer, Liong has choreographed more than 20 performances, many of them multimedia collaborations with Singapore and international artists such as Young Artist Award-winning composer Joyce Beetuan Koh (The Last Lumiere, 2011), Singapore sculptor Han Sai Por (Little Lee I: The Forgotten Journey Home, 2003) and French artist Philippe Laleu (Lost Light I, 1999).

Described as experimental and eclectic, Liong’s choreography characteristically uses movement to express and establish human connections with an emphasis on Asian traditions, mysticism and aesthetics within a contemporary framework. Her works often deal with current concerns from societal advancement to climate change, and are also inspired by traditional folktales. Mahabharata (1995), for example, discussed themes of spiritual nourishment and hunger in rapidly developing Asia, with rice being used symbolically in the performance.

Liong also continued her commitment to dance education with The ARTS FISSION Company, nurturing a love of dance and art in young children and students through its programmes for National Arts Council’s Arts Education Programme. Believing in the rehabilitative power of dance, she has also initiated dance projects with voluntary welfare organisations for young people and seniors.

In 2009, Liong received the Cultural Medallion for her contributions to dance in Singapore.

Today, Liong remains committed to keeping THE ARTS FISSION Company grounded in Asian aesthetics and contemporary urban concerns. The company’s recent Dance Takeout Series is a free performance series that explores the idea of creating a more liveable city with activities and events that engage communities and enrich everyday life.

Liong also currently sits on the National Arts Council’s Arts Advisory Panel for dance.

Timeline

22 Nov 1951

Born in Canton, China.

1968

Moved with family to Des Moines, Iowa, USA.

1980

Attended Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance, New York, USA.

1982

Attended University of Mississippi. Graduated with Master of Arts in English and Dance.

1984

Moved to Singapore.

1984 to 1989

Choreographer with Singapore Broadcasting Corporation.

1989

Initiated the first professional full-time dance diploma programme at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Singapore.

1989 to 1996

Head, Department of Dance, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts.

1989 to Present

Advisor, Arts Advisory Panel (Dance), National Arts Council, Singapore.

1994

Co-founder, The ARTS FISSION Company. With visual artist, S. Chandrasekaran.

1994 to Present

Artistic director and choreographer, The ARTS FISSION Company.

1995

Choreographer, Mahabharata, The ARTS FISSION Company, Asian Performing Arts Festival, Drama Centre, Fort Canning, Singapore. This is The ARTS FISSION Company’s inaugural Asian Performing Arts Festival performance, in collaboration with artist Chandrasekaran and filmmaker Philip Lim.

1997

Initiated the first Singapore dance degree programme at LASALLE College of the Arts. In affiliation with Queensland Technological University, Australia

1997 to 1999

Dean, Faculty of Performing Arts, LASALLE College of the Arts, Singapore.

1998

Choreographer, Camera Obscura, The ARTS FISSION Company, Selegie Art Centre, Singapore. In collaboration with photographer Henrick Lau.

1999

Choreographer, Lost Light I, The ARTS FISSION Company, Alliance Francaise, Singapore. In collaboration with French artist Philippe Laleu.

Choreographer, Hexagram Dances, The ARTS FISSION Company, Singapore Art Museum. In collaboration with Australian-based American artist Joe Felber.

2000

Choreographer, Urban Sanctuary: The Floating Stage Series, The ARTS FISSION Company 35th storey of Centennial Tower, Singapore. In collaboration with French artist Nathalie Junod Ponsard.

2001

Choreographer, Imagine Forest, The ARTS FISSION Company, Singapore Arts Festival, ARTrium@MICA. In collaboration with T’ang Quartet.

Choreographer, Nocturnal Lights, The ARTS FISSION Company, Eco Lake, Singapore Botanic Gardens.

2002

Choreographer, Borrowed Scenery, The ARTS FISSION Company, Yogya Arts Festival, Yogayakarta, Indonesia. In collaboration with Indonesian choreographer Miroto and artist Han Sai Por.

2003

Choreographer, Shadowhouses, The ARTS FISSION Company, Laokoon Festival, Kampnagel Hamburg, Germany.

Choerographer, Little Lee I: The Forgotten Journey Home, The ARTS FISSION Company, at University Cultural Centre, Singapore.

2004

Choreographer, Corridor of Another Time, 10th Anniversary of The ARTS FISSION Company, The Arts House, Singapore.

2004 to 2006

Member, Arts Advisory Panel, National Arts Council.

2005

Choreographer, 12 SMS Across the Mountains, The ARTS FISSION Company and Ccado Dance Theatre, Seoul Arts Centre, Korea and Victoria Theatre, Singapore. Co-commissioned by Seoul International Dance Festival and Singapore Arts Festival.

2007

Choreographer, Dreaming of Kuanyin Meeting Madonna, Mark Chan and The ARTS FISSION Company, Victoria Theatre, Singapore Arts Festival.

Choreographer, Ghost Exchange, The ARTS FISSION Company and TranzDanz (Hungary), Esplanade Theatre Studio, Singapore and Mu Szinhaz, Budapest, Hungary.

2008

Advisor and Facilitator, Asia-Europe Dialogue on Arts, Culture and Climate Change, Asia-Europe Meeting, Beijing, China.

Choreographer, Daydreams and Night Musings, The ARTS FISSION Company, Night and Day Bar and Gallery, Singapore.

2008 to 2009

Member, Culture and Information Sub-Commission, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.

2009

Received the Cultural Medallion for contributions to dance in Singapore.

Choreographer, Dances From the Moon, The ARTS FISSION Company, on a moving stage atop a 40-foot open trailer, Sengkang, Tampines, Nee Soon East and Sembawang Community Centres, Singapore.

Choreographer, The Weather Station, The ARTS FISSION Company, National Geographic Store, VivoCity, Singapore. In collaboration with composer Joyce Koh.

2010

Choreographer, Void Deck Theatre: The Walking Fish Story, The ARTS FISSION Company, Aljunied Community Centre, Singapore.

2011

Choreographer, The Last Lumiere, The ARTS FISSION Company, Esplanade Theatre Studio, Singapore. In collaboration with composer Joyce Beetuan Koh and artist Delia Prvacki.

Choreographer, Petals in the Crowd, The ARTS FISSION Company, Gallery Theatre, The National Museum, Singapore. In collaboration with art and design collective PHUNK.

2012

Choreographer, Dance Takeout Series: SGH Museum, Singapore General Hospital.

Choreographer, The Folly of a Garden 2: A Bestial Masquerade, The ARTS FISSION Company, site-specific performance at the Cairnhill Arts Centre, Singapore.

Jun 2013

Stage Director and Choreographer, The Rite of Spring: A People’s Stravinsky, The Philharmonic Orchestra and The ARTS FISSION Company, Esplanade Concert Hall, Singapore.


TributeSG

TributeSG celebrates the arts community’s most senior members, and those who have made a lifetime of contribution to the arts. These artists, administrators, educators, patrons, and champions include many Singapore arts pioneers who laid the foundations of the vibrant arts and cultural scene we enjoy today. The many profiles in TributeSG let us into the minds and worlds of these pioneers, and help us understand our shared arts heritage. When we revisit their works and rediscover their journeys, we learn where we came from and how we came to be. Collectively, their stories tell the tale of the making of a nation’s artistic identity.

In putting together this collection, the TributeSG team consulted an external advisory panel, consisting of Arun Mahiznan, Choo Thiam Siew, J. P. Nathan, K. K. Seet, Kwok Kian Chow, and Iskandar Ismail. Those selected to be profiled in TributeSG met one of the following criteria: they were at least 60 years of age as of 12 Oct 2016, or deceased, or had received national recognition in the form of the Cultural Medallion. This journey of arts archival officially came to a close on 12 Oct 2016, after four years of extensive research, interviews and collation of information graciously provided by the TributeSG pioneers, their families and peers. TributeSG also benefited from enthusiastic help from like-minded friends and organisations who supported Esplanade’s cause—to remember, honour and celebrate Singapore’s arts pioneers.

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