Arts and Culture


“Don’t cry, Lena. It’s just a movie,” my mother used to scold me. My mother always said that films were fake. She would tell me that I should not cry, that I should be only understanding towards the situation. She would call me silly, and perhaps that’s all I was. But I always cry, even when the villains die in films. As a very emotional being, I understand the importance of crying. A sign of sympathy and understanding, crying also has the extraordinary power to relieve tension, stress, sadness, and happiness. Yet, sometimes I feel ashamed as I hide my tears. Someone depicted to cry often is not always someone with empathy and understanding, but rather as someone who is weak and sensitive. Yet as much as I feel ashamed or silly, I cannot stop those tears from streaming down my face and ignore that I am feeling something significant to make me react this way. I want you to know or see how I feel. My tears form my unintended choreography, and my cries become my song.

Not that my choreography is anything as beautiful as Babson Dance Ensemble’s inspired performance this weekend. The troupe inspired me with two particular dance routines. One was choreographed by Bessy Tam. The song was sung/made popular by Taylor Swift and was not particularly significant to note. The choreography mastered the transitions in the story and allow the stage to work for the platform for a beautiful music video in which my emotions changed throughout. My understanding increased with a dream. People move around quickly for it, yet transitions were flawless. The second performance was choreographed by Morgan Keith and an interpretative contemporary routine based on the spoken word poem, “Mo Ni Fe” by Libby Olga Howard. I cried during both performances. Films may be man-made, but they are depictions of life. Love can be fake, but representations of love are often based on emotions that humans feel are real. “Mo Ni Fe” was a depiction of Libby Olga Howard’s passionate love.

Her love was selfish, reflective of the love’s effect on her:
“Loving you is the first step I take in loving myself.
You are rose garden in my cheeks
fistfuls of moonlight that keep fish from sleeping.”

Yet her love spoke of strength:
“I have the heart, wires, mercy, audacity, wind, muscle to love you how I am supposed to.”

The verse continues to show that not only does her love require a strength she has, her love motivates her to continue to show strength for him:
“For every girl you will ever love and every girl who will ever love you.
Make sure darkness never gets the best of you when it does,
speak my name in kilowatt.
I will pull your morality out of you like a moan,
warmth from palm print,
bone from bedrock.”

This love is a beautiful one and something that does not come easily, and I’m reminded that I felt this at one time. Unfortunately the result of both our relationships consequently end to show us how strong we can be even without the person we love:
“This is not the sound of me leaving.
It is equidistance.
It’s being able to be alone when you are with me.”

Even with the distance and the time we are taking away from each other, I still feel this love for him that wants to make his life wonderful. Knowing that he is in the hands of another girl makes me want to ensure what he has with her is good. Don’t feel darkness, I implore. Be strong for yourself. I want to continue to have the heart, wires, mercy, audacity, wind, and muscle to love him and not want to abandon him.

When I go back to read our journal, I see a love that is inspiring. I see us in a raw and natural light. Our love seems choreographed at times because I had made effort to plan them. I had intentionally kept a certain flow. Like Bessy’s choreography, the lines of how we changed are blurred tremendously. Like “Mo Ni Fe,” this happened because change is constant. We often hope that change is either positive or a result of something positive:
“I want to…wake up every morning a different person next to you.”

In a way, this spoken poem has become my anthem. Expressing that this song about love and strength is somewhat stereotypical for a girl, but the song itself is about a choreography, an image and expression of what love feels like. It reminds us what we have felt and how fortunate we are for feeling so. I need to be reminded; I need to know my fortune. I need to know that a love that had once so freely empowered me can still do so. I cannot let go.
Mo ni fe.