*note* sorry this didn’t post sooner! Wifi gets spotty here sometimes. Day 11 coming soon!
Hiya! I’m currently writing while backstage at the National Theatre of Taiwan….ahhhh! So so cool! All dancers grow up with a profound respect for theaters and this is the biggest theatre I’ve performed in. We are dancing on what’s called the experimental stage. The National Theatre houses several stages so multiple productions can happen simultaneously. I could hardly believe it when they gave me my backstage pass at the stage door today–I’m going to be performing professionally in Taiwan in just 2 short days!
I spent the morning before the theatre bopping around Taipei. After my full night of sleep I was in a great mood so I was more chatty than normal (sorry Kelly, Christina, and Michael) and despite my hyperactive tendencies they let me come along with them on their outing to the dance store. The ladies found cute leos and Michael got a pair of rockin sweatpants. Yay Taiwanese dance clothes!💃🏽
Still filled with lots of energy, I split off from the group to do a couple of Taipei things that I wanted to squeeze in before being in the theatre for the rest of the trip. First, I took the MRT to city hall and tried lots of yummy samples in the schmancy underground food court. One bakery had this wine quinoa walnut bread that was ahhhhmazing (it also had squid ink bread which I didn’t try due to my vegetarianness but it certainly piqued my interest!).
Next I went to the Discover Taipei exhibit on the 3rd and 4th floors of city hall to learn a bit more about the region’s history. This island has been through so much! The Sino-Japanese war of 1894, declaring itself the Republic of Formosa, Japanese colonization, and many years of complicated relationships with China.
Since it was just around the corner, I walked to the famous Taipei 101 building and checked that off the must-do tourist list. I didn’t want to pay to go the top of the 8th tallest building in the world (I already got a pretty killer view of Taipei from elephant mountain) but I did want to learn more about it! It is shaped like a tower with 8 sections, and every section is supposed to look like a traditional Chinese money box to bring prosperity to the city. The money boxes are stacked up to look like a bamboo shoot, which represents growth and learning. How cool to make a skyscraper that’s so meaningful!
I walked around the Taipei 101 mall for a bit (more samples yusss) then I walked over to Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall. On my way, I passed a block filled with small stores and food trucks. One store was entirely dedicated to toilet paper that smelled of different flavors–they kept giving me samples even as I was trying to walk away! I love the idea, but unfortunately I’m not at financial level where I’m able to budget for nice smelling toilet paper. Haha maybe one day!
Sun Yat-Sen memorial hall had a surprising amount to do! I was expecting a nice walk around a park, but in addition to pleasant greenery I experienced multiple art galleries, a musical performance, a mini museum, a calligraphy lesson, and a cow themed cafe. What’s not to love?! My favorite art gallery was made by adults who had had disabilities from birth or had developed them later in life. The docents spoke to me about the program, which in works to make beauty from potentially ugly situations. How smart! Ugh I love it!The pieces were incredible and the artists’ quotes were inspiring. We can all work to make the best situation with the hand we’re dealt!
I MRTed back to the hotel to meet up with the company and we all walked to the National Theater. After getting our swanky backstage passes (still can believe it😸) we set up in our dressing rooms and took company class onstage. We didn’t have barres so we had to use chairs that were a little too short…time to get on your leg! Getting on your leg is what dancers refer to when talking about finding your center of balance. Richard, our rehearsal director, gave a tough but good class. I love that we get to continue working on technique even as professionals.
Then it was time for a long night of rehearsal. The experimental theatre has some of the most technologically advanced production capabilities I’ve ever seen (or danced in). It’s equipped with every type of lighting you can imagine. Strokes of light shoot through the air, waves of color glimmer across the stage with a 3D quality, fog bends light in all directions…the possibilities are limitless. These production qualities make for a very ambient stage but also for some disoriented dancers on tech night…oof again. My stamina felt better today but there were several occasions where I had no idea which way the front was (the audience, the back wall, and all 4 corners of the stage all appear to be pitch black from an on-stage perspective) so I was frequently turned around and consequently not on my leg😑 The main purpose of a tech rehearsal is for the light and sound people to coordinate with dancer cues, but it is also a chance for us dancers to learn where to anticipate particularly disorienting parts so we can find a visual anchor for the next run (i.e. a piece of glow type or light fixture). I have some serious anchoring to do!
I am writing this while watching rehearsal for the last piece, “Arrival from Departure” which Ming (BodyEDT’s director) set on Verb last season. It’s 9:30pm so almost time to head home for the night and get some rest for another theatre day tomorrow!
I wrote my last post from the theatre, but I had one more adventure on my way home. As Michael and I were passing the main entranceway to the theatre (imagine a grand stairwell and vast roof over a terrace), I heard some funky music playing from above. The stairs are so high that we couldn’t see what was happening from below, so we ran up to check it out.
OhMyGosh!! Jackpot! We found a street dance crew practicing their moves in three rings–one circle for practicing flying, one for popping, and one for breaking. When you’re a dancer, it’s practically irresistible to withhold from dancing when there’s a sick beat and bunches of other people dancing around you, so I went over to the popping group and introduced myself. They were super excited to have michael and I join! They explained that they were experimenting with slow movement accented with popping on counts 1 and 5, so we played along and improved with them. I love how dance can build relationships among people of all backgrounds and languages, ultimately people want to move together!
One woman named Cynthia was especially good at English. She offered to introduce us to the dance captain so he could teach us some of his moves. Before we knew it, Michael and I were on the stone ground learning how to swing our legs around our body for a breakdance move. I was terrible, but it was super fun to learn! Their dance captain was a great teacher and very accommodating to our balletness. He kept reminding us not to point our feet…Haha. Street dancing with the “90s breakers” was definitely one of my favorite moments from this trip! Now bedtime time for meeee!
Mix + Multi Arts Festival in Taiwan
Verb Ballets will embark on their first international tour to Taiwan through the support of The Cleveland Foundation Creative Fusion Program. During the two week tour the company will perform at the National Performing Arts Center in Taipei for four performances running April 21-23, 2017. It will be a shared program with Creative Fusion Artist, Lee Ming-Cheng company BodyEDT for the Mix + Multi Arts Festival.
Friday, April 21, 2017 at 7:30pm
Saturday, April 22, 2017 at 2:30pm & 7:30pm
Sunday, April 23, 2017 at 2:30pm
Saturday, April 22, 2017 at 2:30pm & 7:30pm
Sunday, April 23, 2017 at 2:30pm
National Theatre and Concert Hall in Taipei, Taiwan
Read our blog for updates about the dancers experience in Taiwan
Custom Post Images
Follow our dancer blog
Follow our dancer blog at http://verbballets.tumblr.com
Verb Ballets, a contemporary ballet company, presents dynamic programming through bold artistry, unique styles and technical excellence that captivates a broad audience. Under the direction of Dr. Margaret Carlson, Producing Artistic Director and Richard Dickinson, MFA, Associate Director, the company will present a season that ignites passion in the energy, beauty and athleticism of dance.