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      #SpeakingInDance: My body told me to dance

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      My dance classmate Aline Motard who is always ready to share her beautiful big smile with me. (@alinemotard, Instagram)
      My dance classmate Aline Motard who is always ready to share her beautiful big smile with me. (@alinemotard, 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.

      ______

      A few years ago, I was so sick that I could not eat, sleep or get out of bed. Every part of my body was swollen, even inside my ear canals. None of the Western doctors I consulted could help me. They gave more drugs. I got worse. One of them said: “Do not worry, here is a sedative A for the morning, sedative B for the afternoon and sedative C for the evening. And if you still cannot sleep at night, here is a prescription-strength sleeping pill.” A light bulb came on in my head: “Ding! I am going to die like a rockstar.”

      But aside from my brush with death, there was an accumulation of various moments that led to my resignation from a managing position at Apple Inc. — a company I once thought I would work for until retirement.

      One of those moments was when I was being mesmerised by a dancer at a Cirque du Soleil performance in Macao. I felt this sense of yearning to be like him, the way he was on stage. How completely present he was, not just in his head, but fully there with every inch of his body. Moving and sharing with so much passion.

      Then there was the Tom Ford movie, A Single Man, starring Colin Firth as an English professor mourning the death of his partner and preparing to join him. What stayed most with me was this quote: “A few times in my life I’ve had moments of absolute clarity, when for a few brief seconds the silence drowns out the noise and I can feel rather than think, and things seem so sharp and the world seems so fresh. I can never make these moments last. I cling to them, but like everything, they fade.”

      There was often a sense of emptiness. I felt a hole in the middle of my chest. Sometimes it felt like depression. I tried to fill it up by working harder, shopping, eating or even keeping the wrong company. Nothing helped.

      Finally, I understood that it was myself asking me to connect with me. To look inside and reconnect with the love and peace that was given to me, to all of us, at birth. A love that is saturated with peace, harmony and hope.  A love that is only possible if we let go, and trust.

      A mural near my apartment I see on a daily basis on my way to class.
      A mural near my apartment I see on a daily basis on my way to class.

      I recall the moment I asked my cousin Rita to pray with me after months of not sleeping properly. I gave in. I felt hopeless yet hopeful… in a way. I decided to stop fighting and start trusting.

      “Dear God, if you have meant for me to have a life dependant on sedatives and pills, I accept it.  It is the life that I have feared. But if You need me, for your bigger plan, to have this life, I accept it.”

      At this point, tears were streaming down both of our faces.

      Two months later, I was free of medication. It was acupuncture, Chinese herbs and natural therapy that got me back on my feet. Apparently, I pushed my body too hard for too long. It stopped knowing how to re-balance itself. Yes, that was all.

      The realisation dawned on me that, sometimes, what is in my head is not really what’s in my heart. I thought I wanted recognition at work — but it didn’t fulfil me. I could no longer spend hours sitting at a desk, feeling disconnected from the rest of my body. I could no longer go on  feeling nothing while getting paid for it.

      A slice of Parisian life: Having a madeleine at Buly 1803 in the chic Le Marais area of Paris.
      A slice of Parisian life: Having a madeleine at Buly 1803 in the chic Le Marais area of Paris.

      I realised I need to dance. To be completely present in the moment. Not thinking about the future or the past. To connect within myself and share the love and peace I feel each day. Maybe, this will have a ripple effect to the rest of the world. Like they always say when you board an airplane:  “Please ensure you put on your own seatbelt before you help someone else.”

      I understand that it needs to start from within me.

      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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