Ahhh! I can’t stop saying ah! I am still in disbelief that it’s opening night of our performance series in Taipei! I’ve been looking forward to this for so long. I have been excitedly anticipating this trip ever since Ming invited us last season, but I have been wanting to dance abroad professionally ever since I was a little girl. Getting paid to travel and do what you love? Someone pinch me. Yay dreams✨
Ok sorry for the cheesy Hallmark movie moment, it’s mostly out of my system now. After getting to the theater early this morning I was having an equally blubbery moment thanking Ping (BodyEDT codirector and dancer) when she noticed I had an apple on my dressing room place. “You take apple?” she said. “Yes I got it off the food table earlier,” I said. “Ohhh,” she said, “I’m sorry you have to put that back. It hasn’t been blessed yet.” That snapped me out of my blubbering sentimental moment. I had been the stupid American who had taken the forbidden fruit without waiting for it to be blessed! Ugh I’m the worst! I apologized profusely and ran to put my apple back on the table. I haven’t had an apple in 2 weeks but I don’t plan on trying to have anymore while I’m here. I was so embarrassed!! Sorry to any ancestors I disrespected!😳🙈
Snapped back to reality, I focused on getting ready for class and the dress rehearsal. I did my hair in my fancy “Aposiopesis” getup (lotso braids and twists) and stretched. Class was the perfect amount of hard but not too exhausting before a long theater day. It’s one of my favorite things to get into “the zone” as a company. Then we had our dress rehearsal for Program A. “Aposiopesis” actually went pretty well! Fingers crossed it can go well again tonight🤞
Now we have an hour before the group theater prayer at 5 (no unblessed apples this time) and warmup at 5:40. During this time, the company dancers on costume duty are washing our costumes. They smell rankkkk. Maggi’s (our artistic director’s) biggest note to us after the dress rehearsal was that she could smell us from the audience. Yum!😝 Thank goodness the theater offered for us to use their washers and dryers and it’s a fixable problem! Also thanks to the theater staff for finding Michael’s sweatpants…after he took off his costume to be washed he was butt naked walking around trying to find them for an uncomfortable amount of time…t’s a good thing we’re all family here👨👨👧👧😂
I’ll report back tonight after the show! Zi Chin!
Mix + Multi Arts Festival in Taiwan
Saturday, April 22, 2017 at 2:30pm & 7:30pm
Sunday, April 23, 2017 at 2:30pm
Read our blog for updates about the dancers experience in Taiwan
Ni Hao! I’m reporting from the Chaiin hotel after a full day in the theatre. It was a hard but good day! Love those! In my opinion, the best days are the ones with hard work in them. More rewarding I guess? From the way the company dressing room smells, we definitely have been working hard! Haha I kid I kid (well kinda😝)
The day started off with the breakfast club in the hotel where Maggi, our artistic director, told me that this blog has been picked up by Dance USA. If you’re crazy enough to spend your time reading my rambling thoughts, let me preemptively caution you that there are many spelling/grammatical/sentencilogical malodies (I usually write these posts at peculiar hours and have yet to hire an editor😉). Also sometimes I make up words. And overuse emojis🙃🤷🏻♀️. And write terrible puns. You’ve been warned. Now enjoy your PUNishment by reading on. Heh😏
After breakfast I packed up all of my costumes and hairspray and shoes and makeup and backup shoes and backup hair supplies etcetcetc (I looked like an especially baggy bag lady) and made a move to the theatre. I love getting to dance early so I can stretch and get in the zone, especially before performance time. It’s only a 20 minute walk from the hotel to the national theatre so we are practically neighbors!
Before company class I stuck a couple pieces of glow tape in strategic places so I could spot them during quick turning parts and know where I am in relationship to the front, especially during “Aposiopesis” (that’s the hard stamina piece that I’m doing the lead in this trip). I wanted to “turn things around” from yesterday’s rehearsal😝
We took an hour and a half company class (first full length class in a while!) where we focused a lot on the shape of the stage and readjusting our positions to complement the long rectangular proportions. Part of being a professional is being able to make choreography look good no matter what the performance space is like. Then we quickly spaced both casts of “Ne Me Quitte Pas” before going into another tech run-through for Program A, our opening night show. I was able to fix most of the mistakes/disoriented parts from yesterday, but of course I had a few other weird things happen. Hopefully I can fix those during the last dress rehearsal tomorrow🙏 Oh the excitement of live theatre, as much as you want to control it, you never know what is going to happen on stage until it does!
Body EDT provided boxed lunches and dinners for us at the theatre. I know I sound like a broken record, but we’re all so appreciative!! Although a boxed lunch might seem somewhat standard in a business setting, the dance world does not usually come with these types of perks because of perpetually tight funding. Ming, Ping and BodyEDT are so generous! And these were killah boxed lunches! Each box had rice, deliciously cooked veggies, egg, and a choice of pork, beef, chicken, salmon, or tofu. Not your standard turkey sandwich and bag of chips from the states. We also got fancy teas to go with it. I’m sure my performance was enhanced by my lemon rose frothy tea!🥀
During our hour break Michael and I walked around the theatre district in search of a drugstore. My shopping list: liquid foundation, gum, peanuts, and good smelling spray. Michael needed tattoo coverup and bananas. So pretty standard performance time shopping outing😉Amazingly, we managed to find all of our quirky things quickly and in stores where they only spoke Mandarin. Have I mentioned thatI have gotten really good at charades? I chewed air gum like the best of ‘em and it got the message across somehow!
After giving our costumes a light spray of whatever Taiwanese fabreeze equivalent I ended up with (we usually wash them between shows but our resources are limited) we had another warmup class and got ready for a dress rehearsal of Program B, which is Anthony Krutzkamp’s “Appropriated Memories,” Daniel Precup’s “Ne Me Quitte Pas” with myself and Michael dancing, and Ming’s “Arrival from Departure.” We will do Program B Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. Program A is the same except Charles Anderson’s “Aposiopesis” replaces “Appropriated Memories” and Omar and Lieneke perform “Ne Me Quitte Pas.” We will do Program A Friday night and Saturday afternoon. It’s exciting to bring 2 programs because it means we get to show more of our rep, but it also means more to rehearse!
The Program B dress rehearsal went pretty well overall. We all had some things that we hope to fix for the show (my braid is supposed to unravel midway through “Ne Me Quitte Pas” but I must have braided it too tight because it only unraveled at the very end, woops!) but nothing too major went terribly wrong…knock on wood!
We spent the second act watching Body EDT perform their new work “Initial-Space Starting.” Imagine liquid quality modern dance performed to mind boggling optical illusion projections and thought provoking music. It was pretty incredible! As a beginning choreographer myself I have so much respect for Ming. 1- How can he think of movement that interesting to being with? And 2- How can he then incorporate other complicated elements of projection and lighting so seamlessly and tastefully? That’s so much to coordinate in one brain! Everything was cohesive–although there was a lot of visual stimulation nothing was too much. It’s an honor to share the stage with them!
We set our final group bow and then we were released for the night. Kelly and I took our boxed dinner home and had a tasty picnic on our hotel floor before bed. Now it’s sleepy time before another dress rehearsal and opening night tomorrow!! Ahh! Sweet dreams everyone ❤
*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!