It was 1994, and no one in Singapore had much access to contemporary dance. There simply weren’t any companies that were dedicated to it. That’s when Angela Liong and S Chandrasekaran stepped in to fill the void with Arts Fission. The group’s inaugural performance, Mahabharata: A Grain of Rice, was staged the following year – and now, 20 years later, Liong plans to honour the milestone with a tenday festival called Make It New.
‘Arts Fission was set up to create an individualistic dance language that could express my thoughts and reflect the changing times of Asia,’ explains Liong. Which is perhaps why the group is determined that the festival shouldn’t be a typical retrospective – there won’t, for example, be restagings of old works. Make It New comprises five programmes. Three of them are open to the public: ‘Incidental Performance’, which includes live performances and the local debut of the dance film Dancing Dawn: The Temple Reimagined; the Dance by Design exhibition; and ‘The Thinking Dance’, where participants can discuss how to document contemporary dance with artists and art writers. The two other programmes, ‘The Talking Dance’ and ‘A Floating Feast for Everyday Dancers’, form the outreach angle of the line-up.
‘My biggest hope for the festival is to raise the profile of contemporary dance in Singapore, raise the awareness and name of Arts Fission, and to appreciate that we have a 20-year-old contemporary dance company in Singapore,’ says festival producer Michele Lim.
Make It New is at various venues from Jan 30-Feb 8.