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I had recently applied to grad school for an MFA in Choreography. When asked to write a statement of intent, I knew that was my chance to finally put language to the embodied liberation that unfolded for me as I was coming to grips with my non-binary and Vietnamese-American identity. I though it would be nice to share my brief introduction:

"Assigned “boy” at birth, but gifted with the intuition to reach for a dress at 5 years old, I have long felt misunderstood because my desires did not fit the assumptions society imposed on me. But when I discovered dance, a new narrative unfolded. My body was no longer a label, but rather a portal to possibilities, a multidimensional and harmonious ecosystem of microbes, memories, and desires. I don’t feel constrained by the muscles and skeleton of my body because I can still be soft and elegant like the princess I have always wanted to be. Dance is ephemeral--always in flux. The binary of masculinity and femininity flows through me so quickly you can’t name it before it transforms again. Even my childhood trauma, which can feel impossibly stagnant, moves through me either as I hold those vibrational memories in my arms or as I release that effort in a contraction. I search for those choreographies, those aches in our bones, that teach us to reimagine how queer people of color can feel unashamedly embodied."

(This is from my instagram post dated April 30th, 2020.)

45 years ago from this week (April 30th to be exact), my father escapes on a merchant ship as he watches his country in flames, the collapse of Saigon and the end of the Vietnam War. He flees to Guam, then to Oregon of the United States. When he takes his first steps on this land, he finds a nickel, his first of US currency and the start of his new American life, but he can only think of his dead comrades back home. He falls in love with the smartest girl in his computer science class at Oregon State University. She becomes his wife and mother of his children. But as he begins his own family, he still has yet to be reunited with his brother left behind during the war.

April 30th, 2020 - I sit with him at his kitchen's marble countertop, sipping wine from Joseph Phelps, his favorite vineyard, and gazing at a panoramic view of the San Francisco Bay, and I ask him, are you sad today? No. He doesn't turn to me to clarify. I am just remembering.

I am a child of war, but I am also a vessel of love. Despite the ephemeral quality of dance, the fleeting movements, the impermanence of my body in space, the possibility of what is next and what is never, I want to dance like I am a memory.

Every promise of life is also a promise of death. Moments begin at an end. Decisions end possibilities. The future at the mercy of sacrifice. The mind may or may not forget, but the body will always remember.

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