#SpeakingInDance: Three is the magic number
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#SpeakingInDance: Three is the magic number

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Inside the Palais Garnier, the grand 19th century opera house where every professional dancer would dream to dance in.  
Inside the Palais Garnier, the grand 19th century opera house where every professional dancer would dream to dance in.

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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Throughout time, the number three seems to have carried a certain magical quality. In terms of our DNA, our genes are read by a triplet code. There are three primary colours — red, yellow and blue — which make up all other colours.  Apple’s visionary founder Steve Jobs was known to apply the rule of three in every presentation and product launch. In the Christian faith tradition, the number three, symbolised by the Holy Trinity, has come to mean wholeness. The list goes on. 

In retrospect, I had a few threes helping me with my move to Paris. 

I packed my life into three suitcases (ok, yes, I put the rest of my belongings in storage).  

I moved to Paris in March 2018.  

I fell in love with the third apartment I saw in Paris. Mostly, I fell in love with the landlords, Caroline and Francis, a beautiful older French couple who have travelled and lived all over the world. There was this peacefulness about them and about the beautiful apartment they just made. It was like they had transferred their peacefulness to all the details and the inanimate objects of the place.  

I had no job, no guarantor and no local bank account — the ultimate deadly combination for renting apartments in France — but they took a chance on me.  When I saw a Chinese mural in the bedroom, I asked Caroline about it. She replied: “We wanted to put something Chinese in this apartment.”  Well, now they got one in 3D!  

Maybe these magical threes were coincidences. Or maybe not? I’m happy either way. And I wanted to carry this magic into my first day of dance school. 

Demi pointe shoes, check. Socks, check. Water, check. Stretch band, check. Tennis balls, check.  (Yes, tennis balls! To roll out muscles and for self-massage in between classes.)

Ok, I am ready for my first day of dance school!” Or so I thought. But three key moments on my first day of school made me rethink.

“Turn out your leg!” That was the first moment, a moment of challenge, from ballet class. The move needed to be developed from inside the hip. I needed to open my hip. Right, okay. That was easier said than done. 

The second and bigger moment was from my first contemporary Martha Graham dance class. I should first tell you that I am one of those people who is slightly obsessed with cleanliness. I feel a compulsion to keep things hyper organised and spotlessly clean at all times. I wipe down my seat on the airplane. I refuse to hold onto the handrail on the Metro. I avoid touching door knobs. So, when my teacher asked me to take off my socks in the middle of my first Martha Graham dance class, I froze. I froze because it didn’t look like they had mopped the floor between classes. I froze because there were many other pairs of bare feet in the classroom. 

My brain went into self-dialogue mode: “If I don’t take my socks off, that means I can never take this class. If I take them off, many things could grow on my feet. Wait, look at your classmates’ feet. They have been taking off their socks in classes for years, but nothing seems to be growing out of their feet. They look okay. And… I love this class.”

My beautiful class mate, Valentine Raymond, 17 years old. Thank you for rushing to me with your Tiger Balm when I hurted my ankle.
My beautiful class mate, Valentine Raymond, 17 years old. Thank you for rushing to me with your Tiger Balm when I hurted my ankle.

Then the third life-redefining moment came — I took off my socks. I took them off and danced on a floor that had been danced on by many other unfamiliar bare feet and was a little sticky due to sweat residue. I have been taking off my socks ever since, no matter which studio I go to. Sometimes, I had to put my face on the floor. Or, let a classmate put her bare foot on my bare back.  

A typical basement of a Parisian apartment building, which is the perfect temperature for wine storage.
A typical basement of a Parisian apartment building, which is the perfect temperature for wine storage.

Now, whenever I touch a door knob, the handrail on the Metro or the seat on the plane, three things that used to fill me with revulsion, I remind myself of one thing — that my fears were not real.  I dance bare feet. 

Here’s to the power of three. And to the things we do for love and peace. 😜

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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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