#SpeakingInDance:Magic
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#SpeakingInDance:Magic

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Enzo Guiho-Theaux, 20 years old. He started dancing when he was 18. This is his jump after one year of training. Enzo, thank you for helping me with my attitude derrière. (@enzoguiho - Instagram).
Enzo Guiho-Theaux, 20 years old. He started dancing when he was 18. This is his jump after one year of training. Enzo, thank you for helping me with my attitude derrière. (@enzoguiho – Instagram).

At the age of 48, Patsy Lo left a high-powered job with Apple Inc. to take up dance (ballet and contemporary Martha Graham techniques) full-time in Paris. She had never danced before.

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As part of the dance training, we are required to rest on the weekends, to have at least one day a week to do absolutely nothing. Rest is required if we want to grow.

It is on the weekends that I allow myself to indulge and eat little bit more. It is ideal to maintain a low Body Mass Index (BMI) in order to train at an optimal level. Professional female dancers have an average BMI of 18 percent.  Luckily for me, at my lovely “more senior age”, I am getting away with a BMI of 19.5 to 20. Phew! So while I stick to a strict food plan during the week, weekends are when I can eat freely, or as they call it, “cheat days”.

Sichuan food is almost a must on the weekends. Yes, there is authentic Sichuan food in Paris! We go to a two-storey Sichuan hot pot place called Fondue Chongqing in the 12th arrondissement, which offers everything from pig’s intestines to beef tripe.

Some weekends, I do not leave my apartment at all, especially if I need to be in my “cave” and be with myself. In those moments, I would order food delivery from an app called 方圆食里.  Through this app, you can order from almost all of the Chinese restaurants in Paris. And most of its customer service representatives speak fluent Mandarin. So in the comfort of my own home, I can enjoy 水煑魚, 夫妻肺片 and all kinds of Sichuan delicacies. You can even order bubble tea!

Another one of my favourite things to do is to wander on foot in Paris, especially in the fall when the temperature is perfect. Explore the hidden treasures, without a guidebook or any expectations. I don’t think, I enjoy the moment effortlessly and let life happens.

My most memorable discovery on my long, aimless weekend walks is the Azzedine Alaïa store in the heart of Le Marais. A very unassuming entrance with a basic door bell, this entrance is the gateway to the flagship store of one of the greatest couturiers of our time. Inside the boutique, you will be able to find exclusive items in a large private chamber with a beautiful portrait of the late couturier painted by his good friend, Julian Schnable. This store is also linked to the late designer’s atelier, showroom, museum, mini private hotel and, ultimately, the home where he once lived.

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Ludovic Buthiaux – he and I stumbled upon each other when I was wandering at the Galeries Lafayette Champs-Élysées. Originally from the French Riviera, he studied fashion in Paris and was trained at Emanuel Ungaro, Rochas and Irié. He moonlights at the Galeries Lafayette Champs-Elysees on the weekends and during the week he works with his partner on the launch of their very own fashion brand. (@monsieurbuthiaux – Instagram)

Alaïa has been my favourite designer even before I worked in luxury retail for Lane Crawford almost a decade ago. I love his  laser-cut designs and his passion and obsession for new ways to sculpt and elevate the female form. I love how he relentlessly pursued and expressed his own beliefs of what defined fashion. He presented his collections at his own space and only held fashion shows when he felt it was the right time (versus following the schedule of the conventional fashion week). I love his courage in expressly disagreeing with fashion heavyweights like Karl Lagerfeld and Anna Wintour. I adore him for believing in something beautiful and stood his ground.

Stumbling upon this establishment while wandering aimlessly was quite magical. Okay, my definition of wandering aimlessly involves having some preferences. Even when wandering aimlessly, I prefer to be in a safe area and under ideal weather conditions. The idea of wandering is more about being opened to magic, and letting go of expectations.

The notion of “expectations” is a bit limiting — as we can only expect things that we know about.

Take improvisation in dance, for example. It’s a process where the performer spontaneously creates movement. Letting go of all previous habitual movements and allowing the body to explore authentic feelings and inspirations through instinctual, unpredictable and free movements.  Some choreographers allow their dancers to improvise on stage — to be in the moment and let their bodies speak. This can open up all possibilities and allow magical movements and interactions to take place.

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A magical tricycle – ran into this colorful character in the middle of Le Marais (the 4th arrondissement)

Perhaps the act of my writing to you today is also result of my own improvisation and wandering.  If someone had said to me 2 years ago when I was still at Apple Inc. that one day I would be living in Paris as a dance student and writing a column for Ming Pao Weekly, I would had probably said, “What happy water are you drinking?”

Yet, here I am – doing exactly all of that.

I believe in magic, the unexpected, the unplanned and the oh-so-beautiful moments in life.

“Love isn’t a decision. It’s a feeling. If we could decide who we loved, it would be much simpler, but much less magical.” 

Trey Parker

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Patsy Lo is the founder and curator of sml Dance.  Originally from Hong Kong, Patsy worked in marketing for more than 20 years globally.  At 48, she left Apple Inc. after working for the American tech giant in various cities to become a full-time dance student in Paris, France.  She still lives in Paris, practising ballet and contemporary Graham technique.  Besides dancing more than 20 hours every week, she is also the founder of sml (@sml_dance on Instagram), which curates dance performances. The aim of the company is three fold, make dance more accessible, provide a bridge for choreographers and dancers to cross platforms, and ultimately, inspire people to reconnect within themselves and feel, move and expand more.
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