Watching spunky dance dynamo Yvonne Ng onstage, it's hard to imagine she was once the subject of bullying. But her latest work, the diptych Signs, is inspired by years of childhood taunts in her native Singapore. Maybe looking good - and creating memorable dance - is the best form of revenge. Signs previews Wednesday (February 8). See Dance Listings for details.
It's been more than three years since your last piece. Why the wait? I like taking time when I'm creating something, and frankly it's hard to schedule 14 people in a show. But it's mostly because of funding. We worked on the piece when there was money to work.
A lot of Signs is about bullying. What's your experience with bullying or being bullied? I was bullied by my best friend from kindergarten through high school. There were huge spans of time when no one talked to me.
Why was she still your friend? She had charisma, but she was dangerous. She could take whatever you said and use it against you. She'd invent stories about witches and things. Going to an all-girls school in Singapore, surrounded by jungles, it was easy to screw up a little girl's mind.
Why was she so mean? Years later I learned that she was adopted - or rather, given away. In that culture, boys were adopted, and girls were given away. Maybe that's what made her so angry.
How does this theme of bullying come out in the dance? A lot of bullying is about codependency, so I tried to build that into the movement. It's give-and-take. There's also a leader figure who gets what she wants out of the other dancers.
Why are there no male dancers in the piece? Because I went to an all-girls school! The only males I knew throughout that time were relatives.
What did you think of the movie Signs? I had no idea what it was about or where it was set before I saw it. I went with friends to a drive-in surrounded by miles of farmland. We were terrified.