Self Portrait 5

I am what I remember.

I remember movements from classes, many classes: Cambodian classical Dance, ballet, jazz, Horton, Graham, Limon, African Dances…

I remember my teachers, even if I only took one class with them: Pornpimol Kanthatham, Matt Mattox, Thierry Boyer, Pepsi Bethel, Carol Freed, Julio Rivera, Christine Wright…

I remember performing pseudo Bollywood, French Cancan, Meg Stuart, Elisa Monte and more…I have recurrent dreams that I have to perform Audentity*, without rehearsals. I am either too fat and out of shape for the white unitard, or I don’t remember the choreography, or the stage is abnormally raked or small, or David, my partner, is missing… Anyway the curtain raises and I panic…

I remember the people I danced with, Retna Laksmiwati, Raquel Aedo, Vernon Scott, Misha… I miss them. I am happy to still be dancing with Keith Sabado.

I remember seeing performances of Carolyn Carlson, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Bianca del Rey, William Forsythe, and more…

These memories are part of me.

Some people experience hearing musical loops in their heads. This is more likely to happen when there is a loss of hearing. The music they hear is music that they have heard before, and it is reproduced exact to the beat, as if the sound came from a real outside source.

I have had the experience of going through choreography loops in my mind, dancing the same 4 to 5 movements repetitively over and over again, keeping me awake at night. Maybe, when I will be too old to move, I will dance entire concerts in my mind.





Oliver Sacks, Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain, Knopf 2007

*Audentity is a dance by Elisa Monte, music by Klause Schulze (1987)


Self Portrait 4



Each day I start over, it seems almost from zero.

Today the legs are stiff, today the knees are weak, today muscles are tight…Each morning is a re-appropriation of my body, reconnecting with how one limb moves in opposition to another, struggling to find verticality. Each day the sensations are slightly different, depending on what happened the day before. Each day adding to the passage of time, imperceptible yet inexorable, my back less and less pliable, my movement less and less accurate and refined, preparing for the final tension of rigor mortis?

Yes, each day the same, at the barre, 10 am, refining Pliés, Tendus, balances and coordination: I am Sysiphus.


“I leave Sisyphus at the foot of the mountain. One always finds one’s burden again. But Sisyphus teaches the higher fidelity that negates the gods and raises rocks. He too concludes that all is well. This universe henceforth without a master seems to him neither sterile nor futile. Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night-filled mountain, in itself, forms a world. The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.” (Albert Camus)

I am a happy Sisyphus.





Albert Camus. The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays / translated by Justin O’Brien. – London: Hamilton, 1955





Self Portrait 3

I am Daughter Mother Wife and Sister.

As stated on my identity card and passport, I am female.

Emmanuele ending with e.


Biologically I am XX, dependent on the influence of the hormones estrogen and progesterone, which cause and regulate my menstrual cycles.

I am programmed to nest: progesterone = pro gestation.


Psychologically, these same hormones influence my mood, making me more prone to emotions and to tears depending on the time of the month.

Anatomically, I have a vagina, breasts, my frame is relatively small, I have little facial hair (none on my chest). My midsagittal corpus callosum cross-sectional area is more developed than it is in men. This is because I use both hemispheres of my brain. As a consequence my intelligence is both analytical and intuitive. I can multitask.

Socially, I have fulfilled what my mother and entourage expected of me since childhood: I grew up liking girls’ games (hopscotch, the elastic game, dolls). I married, had a child. I like clothes, shoes and bags (uterine pockets?).

My status is not the same depending on where I am: Cambodia, or Europe. I am happy I don’t live in Saudi Arabia.

I favor exchanges, communication and intimacy. To do so, I use words, mimics, and the gaze. A deep voice in a man is… very attractive! Oscar Wilde writes in The Picture of Dorian Gray:

“We women, as some one says, love with our ears, just as you men love with your eyes…”

As a dancer, what differentiates me from a man:

My hips are large, giving me better stability and balance. My joints are more flexible, allowing more stretch in the legs as well as faster and more detailed leg work. The presence of breasts already causes my spine to curve when I stand, so my back tends to arch backwards more naturally.

Body fat ratio, smaller muscles and looser joints make for weaker jumps, my movement cannot be as boisterous and explosive: testosterone, the male hormone, is a hormone for athletes. Instead, I tend to be more detailed, or mannered, depending on how you look at it.




John Gray, Men are from Mars, Women from Venus, HarperCollins 1992

Jean-François Bouvet, Le camion et la poupée, Flammarion 2012

This entry is the result of conversations with Dr Bernard Cordier, head of the psychiatric department at Foch hospital (Paris) and Sun Xiao Jun, ballet dancer and teacher extraordinaire.

Self Portrait 2


A la manière de Roland Barthes:


I like: pasta, cheese, bags, jewelry, coffee, pork, mangoes, money, my dog Doodle, airedales, free socks in airplanes, Thai mussel omelets, spicy food, white wine, clothes, travelling, the color blue, generosity, French perfume, Comme des Garçons, Debussy, Boccherini, West Side Story, sticky rice, baguettes, Romain Gary, Pagnol, Amadou Hampâté Bâ, American TV shows, Myst 1 and 2, humor, Le masque et la plume podcast, receiving flowers, New York, Bangkok, Meg Stuart, Joel Pommerat, Peeping Tom, shopping, cooking, warm weather, spinning, going across the floor in ballet class, working with people etc.


I don’t like: girls who scream, sardines in can, snakes, rodents, pink, the smell of patchouli, Hermès silk scarves, Versace, Paul Auster, Anna Gavalda, speaking in public, speaking on the phone, French movies, Belgium, buying toilet paper, pointed shiny derby shoes for men, spineless lips, susceptibility, getting old, feeling ignorant, bad breath, etc


But, to come back to Barthes:


“I like, I do not like: it does not matter to anyone, and this apparently has no meaning. Yet, in this anarchic foam of tastes and distastes, a kind of listless blur, gradually appears the figure of a bodily enigma, requiring complicity or irritation. Here begins the intimidation of the body, which obliges others to endure me liberally, to remain silent and polite confronted by pleasures or rejections which they do not share.”



Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes, Seuil, 1975; University of California Press, 1994.