#SpeakingInDance: The Colours of Love
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#SpeakingInDance: The Colours of Love

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I made the mistake of forgetting to eat enough before having a 4.5-hour dance practice. By the third hour, I was starving. I could feel an hollowness in my body and my joints were starting to hurt. We were travelling across the floor and the movements were too complicated for me in that state. I asked to be excused in the middle of the class and I went to the side of the studio.

I felt irritated, inexplicably angry, and my breaths were heavy. It was one of those moments in which I felt as though I “hated” dance. Knowing that I cannot live without something that can take so much out of my body and my life, and can cause me so much pain sometimes make me “hate” it. On days like this, I felt sick to think about dancing. I felt like I was being controlled by something I loved. Consumed by it even.

Valentine Raymond, a pre-professional dancer student. My beautiful friend and dance mate, seen here rehearsing for her performance last June in a photo taken by her father, filmmaker and photographer Bruno Raymond-Damasio. (Instagram @beeglaz).
Valentine Raymond, a pre-professional dancer student. My beautiful friend and dance mate, seen here rehearsing for her performance last June in a photo taken by her father, filmmaker and photographer Bruno Raymond-Damasio. (Instagram @beeglaz).

I was not unfamiliar with such feelings, especially after weeks of hard training. There would be moments when I wanted to stop dancing altogether. At the same time, during moments like this, everything else in life seemed harder and uglier. I would walk down the street and become a magnet for other people’s irritable behaviour. I felt the urge to scream back and maybe even retaliate physically to strangers on the street.

This was also a signal that I needed to be alone and rest. I knew I couldn’t allow myself to be carried away by such intense negative emotions. As a momentary respite, a “revenge” coming from an insincere, hateful and unhappy place would not be something I want recorded in my report card.

I have wondered if I could say that “I love dancing”, as love should not be based on a need or control. It’s like if a person loves someone because of the love that the other person can give to them, is that love?

Many wars and much destruction had been carried out in the name of love. Is it love when it destroys and brings suffering? Or should love bring a sense of peace to you and others? Isn’t love simply a feeling of peacefulness that you experience? That love does not have to be perfect and infallible. That as far as in those moments, you are present with it, sincere in wishing the other person well without demanding anything back — that’s also love?

Just writing this makes my brain hurt as I am definitely philosophising love to death.

Love is feeling and, hence, it is very personal.

At the wedding of Auque and Vong. Jean Luc Vong, a Tahitian, is the one in the picture with me. He and his partner are the owners of Auque & Vong Fleuriste (Instagram @auque_vong) in Paris. I walked passed their impressive flower shop in my first month in Paris. A year and a half later, I was one of the witnesses at their wedding.
At the wedding of Auque and Vong. Jean Luc Vong, a Tahitian, is the one in the picture with me. He and his partner are the owners of Auque & Vong Fleuriste (Instagram @auque_vong) in Paris. I walked passed their impressive flower shop in my first month in Paris. A year and a half later, I was one of the witnesses at their wedding.

I remember the many moments in Paris when I have felt love. They were not intense extended long moments of excitement or elation. They were peaceful, very present and kind moments, moments without expectations, from both sides.

Moments of love, Part I
Beautiful 17-year-old Paula* (who was once my pre-professional classmate) walked quickly over to me when I stood on the side during class. She whispered to me in a concerned tone: “You stopped? Why you stopped?”

In my deliriously famished state, I replied: “I can’t do these complicated steps.”

Her worried face relaxed and she said: “If you want, you can ask me. Okay! You follow me.” Then she got into position and signalled to me to follow.

Maybe it was how she always made the effort to speak to me in English while always apologising for how little English she knew (even when I was the one who was supposed to speak better French). Maybe it was her innocence and the purity in her intentions.

I felt love.

Moments of love, Part II
My floor work teacher, Arnaud, rushed over to me during class last week to help me land safely. He said, with a big smile during the rescue: “It is forbidden to put the weight on the head and your neck as you practise the forward shoulder roll.”

I felt love.

Moments of love, Part III
I don’t know his name but I have on a few occasions bought meat from a French butcher at Marché Bastille. He has a slightly rounded face and he wears thick black-framed glasses. Once, he waved to us with one hand while using the other hand to pull down the paper towels. As we walked over, he pointed to my friend’s eight-year-old son, who had dripped some sauce all over his shirt. With a big warm smile, he handed us the paper towels and then he went back to serving his customers.

I felt love.

It is intriguing how many colors love has. There is the highly fulfilling one when love means putting each other’s interest on equal footing without demanding or expecting something in return. Even in brief encounters amongst strangers, love can be felt. Then there is the more consistent love we feel with our family, our partners and our friends. The more intense love we experience when we wish that it was us who suffer instead of our loved ones. The love that gives us the strength to walk away instead of staying in a fight. There is also the kind of love where we occasionally “hate”.

Seems that love is never alone either. Love often comes with kindness, compassion and a bit of willpower. The willpower that stops us from choosing to act on hate as opposed to love.

A beautiful sweeping stairway in the Grand Palais in Paris, France.
A beautiful sweeping stairway in the Grand Palais in Paris, France.

#chooselove
#rememberlove

“Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness. We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love…” ~ Martin Luther King Jr. (1929 – 1968), American Christian minister and civil rights activist

*Name has been changed to protect her privacy.

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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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