We asked Museum of Human Emotion’s choreographers to answer a few questions from a personal point of view.
Here are Yen-Fang Yu’s answers.
. What is your favourite word in your mother tongue? Why? What does it mean?
I got stuck by the word “mother tongue.” So I looked it up on WIKIPEDIA:
“A first language, native tongue, native language, or mother/father/parent tongue (also known as arterial language or L1) is a language or dialect that a person has been exposed to from birth or within the critical period. In some countries, the term native language or mother tongue refers to the language of one’s ethnic group rather than one’s first language.”
I grew in between three language/dialects. Taiwanese ( mother’s side), Hakka ( father’s side), and Mandarin ( at school). When my parents were growing up, they were punished for speaking their mother tongues at school. The government made them believe that it is shameful to speak their mother tongue, and it is also shameful to speak mandarin with an accent. So I grew up listening to adults speaking their dialects, but they would try to converse with me in mandarin.
My favorite world in Hakka: “Voi” 會 I like this word because it is a compliment. When I do something good. ex. Helped my mother cook, or won a dance trophy, my grand parents will say this word to me loudly together.
My favorite word in Taiwanese: I don’t have a favorite word in Taiwanese. But I love to hear it and try to speak it because it is very lively. Phrases like, “liàn-tńg” 輪轉. Using the turning of wheel to describe fluency of someone’s language, or “lak-tshat” 落漆 Using falling paint to describe something not being done well.
I don’t like how I sound in Mandarin, but that is the most fluent language I speak.
. Is there a word in your mother tongue that is untranslatable in English to describe a particular emotion that you would like to share?
I think about Taiwanese phrase “giâ-kê” 夯枷. This is an action of putting heavy implement of punishment on someone. In Taiwanese, it is used to describe someone putting trouble on themselves. I think about it because sometime making art or asking essential questions kind of feels the same.
. Could you share a memory of a time where you were overwhelmed by a particular emotion while dancing or in front of a dance piece? What happened?
I made a piece for my father a year and a half after his passing. I embodied him to look for him inside of me.
. What puts you in motion these days?
Not sure what this means. If you mean taking action, then I think responsibility, curiosity, imagination, and emotion. If you mean dancing, a right tune or a nice shirt will do.
. Can you describe your most memorable place and how you spend (or spent) your time in the place?
In front of my grand mother’s fridge. I like standing in front of it expecting to see a full fridge of food almost exploding, and to smell very complex flavor rushing out towards me. I like that it’s always dark around so the light from the fridge made it even more like a treasure box. I like to remember that my grandma always has something I like hidden in the fridge waiting for my visit.
. How would you describe the dance of the city you live in?
I don’t know. People do all kinds of different physical activities in the city out of different reasons. Some would deny that they are dancing at all and insist that they are only doing exercises. For some of them, dancing is only for young and beautiful ladies, or for people who practiced and know it well.
I had fun thinking and searching and typing on my balcony.
The sun is beautiful this afternoon in Taipei.