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
Day 1555555- Time Travel☸️ *Warning, this is a long post, as it was a very long day. But it is my last post, so enjoy!
Wowwww. I know time travel technically doesn’t exist but boy do I feel like Verb Ballets has accomplished it today. 28 hours ago, on Monday morning, we left our hotel in Taipei, and now we’re all finally home on a Monday evening! My body is so confused right now but hey, we made it!
Most of us tried to stay up really late on our last night in Taipei to help us sleep on the plane the next day and flip our 12 hour time difference. I only slept for 2 hours so I think I was pretty successful–I’ve been tired all day! I got up at 5:45am, threw on my comfy flying clothes and set out for one last morning walk around the hotel. I grabbed coffee from 7/11 and sipped it while walking around Peace Park. I’m going to miss that enchanting place.
The group met at 6:45am to say goodbye to Ming and Ping (they woke up so early to bid us farewell–so thoughtful!) and taxi to the airport. On our way out, we enjoyed the beautifully gloomy vistas of the industrially advanced city and surrounding picturesque mountains. Taipei sure does know how to look pretty.
At the luggage checkpoint, I confirmed that the reason I had so much difficulty cramming everything into my suitcases was because I literally had too much stuff. My bag was several kilograms over the maximum, which meant that Michael and Kelly were each the lucky foster parents of a bag of Kate souvenirs. AKA their suitcases got even heavier thanks to me😬 Have I mentioned that I love both Michael and Kelly? Thanks guys for saving me and all of my stuff!
We made it through security mostly successfully (Kelly had to get her play sand she bought as a gift tested for illegal substances😧) and then we all went our separate ways to wait out the few hours before the flight took off. Unlike US airports, which are essentially expensive shopping malls, the strong sense of cultural pride is evident in Taiwanese airports, which I found out have mini history and art exhibitions in addition to shops and restaurants. I actually learned quite a bit about the various aboriginal groups in Taiwan while waiting for the plane. What a great use of airport waiting time!
Another great use of waiting in an airpot time? Food! I went out in search of something savory and vegetarian for under $200 NTD (because that’s all I had left!) and had some trouble. Adorable pastries were everywhere, but I needed something of substance. The only option I could find was lasagna, so I decided to have my first ever breakfast lasagna. Unlike in the states, there was no to-go option (even though it was from a kiosk style cafe) so I had to wait 10 minutes. I had time to kill, so Lieneke and I sat down and chatted about growing up and learning more about yourself traveling and other philosophical things. It was quite the fulfilling pre-lasagna discussion🙃
The food came in a very hot casserole dish, so I let it cool down a bit. I was joking with Lieneke that it was my first meal in Taiwan served with a fork, and that it would have been difficult to eat lasagna with chopsticks. I had only finished about 2 bites when Lieneke said “Oh my gosh! They texted us to hurry back. They must have started boarding early!!” I didn’t want to leave my beautiful breakfast lasagna that I had spent my last NTDs on and waited a whole 10 minutes for, but I didn’t want to miss my flight back to America! I told Lieneke to run ahead and that I would be right there. I ran over to the lady at the kiosk and if she had a paper plate. She said she didn’t because they didn’t have a to-go option (us Americans and our obsession with eating food on the go). Losing hope, I started looking around but didn’t see any other cafes that had to-go options either. Then I saw paper cups behind the counter. “Could I use a cup?” I asked. The lady looked at me like I was seriously crazy as I scraped the lasagna from the casserole dish into the paper cup, repeatedly burning myself in the process. Then I took off running.
Right as I was about to get to the gate, I saw Lieneke running towards me. For a split second I thought she was going to say that the plane left, but then I saw her smile. “Everyone is still there, they just told us to hurry back so that the group could move to a sitting area closer to the gate,” she said. We both broke down laughing with the ridiculousness of the situation–having lasagna for breakfast in Taiwan then Olympic sprinting through the airport with it sloppily shoved in a cup. The best part? I ended up having to eat the cup lasagna with chopsticks because I couldn’t find a plastic fork. That had to be one of the funniest breakfasts of my life! Also one of the most accomplished…I finished the whole veggie lasagna with chopsticks!
Then came the longggg flight. Ugh. Verb Ballets had survived Taiwan successfully, but as soon as the plan crossed to international waters fecal matter started hitting the fan quickly (if ya know what I’m sayin’).
Poor Stephaen spent the majority of the flight throwing up into shoddily designed puke bags that often did not do their job holding puke. So we all donated our blankets to the cause of containing said puke. That poor guy felt terrible the whole trip.
Christina also had to deal with a minor cross-contamination flair-up with her egg allergy. Though it was a “minor” reaction (someone must have touched an egg then touched her food, so she didn’t actually eat egg) she was still doubled over in discomfort for the majority of our travels.
The flight didn’t have working outlets or internet again, customs didn’t open for a half hour until after we landed, and the aircraft only had one working door to deplane, so we got to sit in our seats for a longgg time after landing from our delightful flight feeling especially wonderful😖
When we finally got off, we had to cross back through a passport checkpoint, customs, baggage claim, and security again before getting to our next gate en route to Denver. Needless to say, our suffering company members really had to dig deep to stand in the endless lines with all of their luggage.
Lieneke was trying to be helpful and carry some of Stephaen’s things, but then she also felt dizzy and had to lie down. For those of you who know Lieneke, this lady has amazon strength so if she’s lying down you know she’s really not doing well.
However, we all eventually got to the gate and had several hours to recuperate before our next flight. Unfortunately, Nathanael then realized that someone had gotten ahold of his credit card information while we were overseas, so he had to deal with all of that fun stuff during the layover. Wooo man! Verb Ballets was on a serious struggle bus!
I felt slightly guilty that I wasn’t dealing with severe physical discomfort or financial distress, so I did my best to help those who were suffering however I could. Once everyone was relatively stable in a recovery position balled up or lying down, I decided to take an airport walk to relieve my swollen tight muscles. During my stroll, I discovered that the San Francisco airport has a yoga room free for all to use! I felt much better after stretching and rolling out in the yoga room. Every airport should jump on that yoga room bandwagon.
Our next 2 flights went more smoothly. We had a fairly quick turnaround from Denver to Cleveland, and luckily no new problems arose. I slept through most of those flights, which will probably complicate my jet lag recovery later, but I was happy to sleep. I was exhausted! By a minor miracle, we all made it back to Cleveland conscious and upright (in a precarious mental state, but that’s beside the point😜) with all of our luggage. If it weren’t for some serious teamwork and a lot of nice flight attendants, we might have never made it back to the beloved “Mistake on the Lake” that we call home.
Delirious but happy, we bused back to Verb so we could drive back to our respective apartments. I blasted out of the parking lot in hopes of making it to Whole Foods before they closed at 10. I had been craving a big crunchy salad with cottage cheese for weeks! And my apartment was foodless! Some very kind employees took pity on me and let me scurry to the salad bar at 10:01. Thank you so much Whole Foods on Cedar! You made a happy ending to a very very very long day (a 29+ hour day to be precise!).
My big suitcase filled with dirty laundry was so heavy I could’t even get it up the stairs, so I decided to throw a bunch of laundry in the washer before even making it up to my apartment (my machines are in the basement). I can’t explain how excited I am to have clean laundry!
I currently have a washed face, an empty bladder, and I am enjoying a crunchy Whole Foods salad. Life is great🤗. You really notice the little things after traveling for hours on end. It was a challenging day, but I’ll take that in exchange for a truly amazing tour.
Thanks to everyone who followed me along on Verb’s travels! We all feel deeply humbled to have had this experience, and want to thank everyone who made it possible. Cleveland Foundation–You rock (even more than the Rock Hall…shhh!). None of this would have been possible without you. All donors who contributed–thank you thank you thank you! BodyEDT–well you know we are obsessed with you and absolutely can’t wait to have you come to our neck of the globe starting next week. Your company’s futuristic vision and generous heart inspired us the whole trip. I am so looking forward to performing with you again in a few short weeks at Cleveland Public Theater!
On that note, the travel blog ends here. Time for me to return to real life of dancing all day and teaching all night! If you have enjoyed learning more about Verb and Body EDT, I recommend that you follow our Facebook pages to keep tabs on our future adventures.
-Verb’s FB page is:
-And BodyEDT’s FB page is:
If you ever have to the chance to go to Taipei, definitely do it! It is a marvelous place with some even more fabulous people. I will leave you with a list of things I will miss from Taiwan, and also a list of things I look forward to having again back home.
Things I’ll miss about Taiwan:
-Cute dogs and their even cuter haircuts
-The happy, clean, efficient MRT and its calming music
-Cartoons for everything
-Guavas guavas everywhere
-All dem oolong teas!
-The young people–they’re so enthusiastic yet well behaved (I feel like an old lady saying that but it’s true guys!)
-The hardworking and respectful culture. No room for “too cool for school” here
-The emphasis on collectivism and benefitting the community over the individual
-Bowing my head (I do get how that physically manifests respect)
-Peace signin’ it up in pictures
-The wide variety and accessibility of fake meats
-Having time to explore and stumble across new adventures
-All of their exciting new flavors (taro mung bean pastry anyone?)
-Affordable yet nutritious food
-The endlessly generous, hardworking, and affectionate Taiwanese people
Things I’m looking forward to in America:
-Consistent toilet paper and sitting toilets (squatty potties can get increasingly complicated if anything is going on beyond your basic pee)
-Cottage cheese and Greek yogurt
-Fresh veggies that I can clean and eat raw and crunchayyy! Nommm (their veggies were deliciously prepared but often with lotso oil)
-Being in the same time zone as my friends and family
-Having the ability to express myself articulately and not feeling guilty for my horrifically pronounced Mandarin
-A diverse looking poppulation
-My back massage chair
-Seeing everyone I’ve missed!
Kate Over and Out👋
Oh my goshhhhh!!! Today was my last day in Taipei😩 I’m sad guys! This has been an amazing trip and it’s hard to see it come to a close. But I guess they say all good things come to an end. Fine. Still feel like that’s a dumb saying but ok ok I get it I can’t stay on tour in Taiwan forever. So here’s how the day went down:
I got a good night of sleep (always a blessing before a performance day) and had my last hotel breakfast of fruit, veggies, a hard boiled egg, one cappuccino and one cup of coffee with steamed soy milk. I shall miss their fancy coffee machine😌
Then I attempted to start packing, got overwhelmed by the amount of dirty laundry and souvenirs (man I can really accumulate some stuff!), and gave up in exchange for heading to the theatre. On our way in, Kelly and I saw a ceremony of sorts for a big summer athletic event that Taipei is hosting, complete with many of the marching bands that we had seen practicing the day before. There was so much pomp to be had. Woo!
Amped up for the last performance, the Verbers took our last company class with the BodyEDT dancers. They’re beautiful movers, and I can’t wait to see more of them when they come work with us in Cleveland! One of the dancers named Hsin (pronounced “She”) gave us little cakes with egg and pineapple in the middle that were sooooo tasty. I have tried a lot of pineapple cake since being in Taiwan and those were by far the best. Thanks again for the tasty treat, Hsin! 😋
Then it was showtime for Program B. I thought my performance Saturday night was better for me personally, but the show still went well overall. I find that my best performances happen when I can completely lose myself onstage and immerse myself in whatever piece I’m dancing. If I let conscious thoughts drift into my mind, like “Oh I have to do this step that I can usually do fine, but what if I mess it up today?” or weird second guessing thoughts like that then it’s hard for me to get back into that performance zen mode. But the audience still seemed to enjoy the performance, and that’s ultimately the most important. Lots of people wanted autographs and pictures after the show, which to makes me feel a silly to be honest (it’s just little ol’ me🤓) but I was happy that I could do something to brighten their day. One young woman took a picture with me and posted it on Instagram with the caption “I’m in Love.” They sure showered us with their affection!
After the audience meet and greet, we did a quick photo shoot on the stage. Then we said goodbye to BodyEDT and the stellar stage crew and we were on our way! Richard, our associate director, had kindly arranged reservations and transportation so we could all have a final Verb dinner together. Mexican food best fits the dietary constraints of the group so it was Eddy’s for nachos and margaritas for us. Thanks Senor Richard! Taiwanese Mexican food is surprisingly tasty!
Since it was our last night, we wanted to make sure that we spent every Taiwanese dollar that we had exchanged when coming into the country, so our last stop of the trip was Shillin night market. Although we had already been once, the night market is so huge that when we went back I saw entirely new stall and stores. We had a total blast🤠 Because we didn’t have to work the next day (actually we were purposely trying to stay up for most of the night in attempt to initiate the 12 hour time zone switch), we enjoyed ourselves and stayed out late. I bought a really obnoxious Taiwan hat that I plan to wear all around Cleveland this summer, some earrings in the shape of Taiwan, and a fo-jade necklace with Christina. We figured we could call it “genuine night market jade.” I also tried a grass jelly tea (the tea part was great, I think I’ll pass on future grass jelly😝) and Michael and I split this divine little cheese tart. Michael got a cute shirt to add to his crop top Friday collection and Christina got a pretty ballerina style tulle skirt. There were so many great options! It is very rare for ballerinas to have a little money to spend and time to do it so we enjoyed the luxury💁🏼
Thank goodness Kelly decided to buy some snail earrings because the jeweler who made them alerted us that the MRT was about to close. We ran to the MRT station (Lieneke buying chopsticks and Kelly purchasing a postcard rapidly along the way) and hopped on the red line. It was a really good thing the jeweler told us because we were out of Taiwanese money and wouldn’t have been able to pay for a cab! That could’ve been a very long late night walk!
When I got back to my hotel room, I had a package waiting for me from Connie, the hotel desk worker that came to our performance. She had hand stitched a “Verb Ballets in Taipei” embroidery and left it for me with a very sweet note. The whole trip, I found myself consistently overwhelmed by everyone’s generosity and adoration. Taiwanese people are just so stinking kind! The tapestry is my favorite thing I’m bringing back from the trip. Thanks again Connie💌
Then Kelly and I turned on Taiwanese TV (we think it was a show similar to ninja warrior only with super crazy sound effects) and got to packing. Yaowowza I had a lot of dirty laundry😝 Like ehw! If TSA decides to do a random search of my suitcases, they’ll be in for a rude awakening. I somehow managed to smash everything in (both of my suitcases had to be expanded to their maximum size), wrote a couple thank you notes, and I set my alarm to get me up in 2 hours. It was a great last day in Taipei!
Hi again! If you haven’t gotten sick of me yammering on yet then kudos to you (you only have a few more days to stay strong!). I’m sick of my own blab at this point. So I’ll try to keep it short😉
I woke up feeling the performance hangover of slight grog and lotso sore muscles. When you perform, you tend to grip muscles with more vigor than in rehearsal so you don’t fall out of positions. Adrenaline is a powerful thing man! And boy do I feel it😣We’re all especially missing our physical therapists back in Cleveland. Thanks Katie and Mary, can’t wait to see you guys again soon!😂
After breakfast club I got ready and headed to the theater. I had to make a quick circle back to the hotel room after I purchased some beautiful Asian bowels from a store close by (I’m moving into a new apartment this summer so I have to stock up!) 🍜
When I arrived at Liberty Square (where the National Theater is), I saw several groups practicing their various routines. There were marching bands, color guards, military step teams, and street dancers. I feel like everyone in Taiwan is a part of a million organizations! Teamwork is a core value here. Love that!!
We all stretched and tried to roll out our sore muscles with whatever little balls we could fit in or suitcases (I had to leave my beloved foam roller at home because it was too big to pack😞) before company class with Richard and the BodyEDT dancers. My body felt a little rough but it was still good to get class in. I love me some ballet!
The first show was Program A, which was “Aposiopesis” for me. I didn’t feel that I was as on my leg as last night (I always have critiques for myself, but I guess that’s part of being a professional) but it was still a good show. I just feel so lucky to be able to have this performance opportunity! I watched the rest of the show from the backstage TV and thought my fellow company members look fantastic. It’s great to be inspired by your friends because the funny times you have together are more genuine when you have sincere respect for them.
After a company meeting to conjure up some activities for when BodyEDT comes to Cleveland for two weeks (can’t wait to have them come to the US!) we took a small break. Omar and Nata took me to a hole in the wall coffee shop that roasts their own beans so I could have some Taiwanese coffee to take home. I love/need coffee so I was happy with my purchase. The store owner was sweet and packaged up a bag of beans that he had finished roasting that morning!
Back at the theater, we worked our way back to the stage for another warmup class. We were all pretty sleepy but Richard did a good job waking us up. The first exercise included a “face stretch” which basically translated into a 16-count yawn for me. That had to be the longest yawn of me life! Haha.
Richard shortened the class so we’d have time to run “Ne Me Quitte Pas” with me and Michael plus parts of “Appropriated Memories” since we hadn’t rehearsed Program B for a while. It was helpful to have a run to get those neuroconnections all afired again🔥Then we scurried offstage so the tech crew could preset!
Back in the dressing room, we listened to a mix of broadway Mary Poppins and Bruno Mars to get pumped up for the show. Classic combo👌I fulfilled my ritual of eating chocolate (thanks Michael and Maggi for sponsoring preshow chocolate this round of shows) and the company did our traditional preperformance Verb chant…then off we went! Once I got through my very first entrance in “Appropriated Memories” I felt a lot less shakey and the rest of that piece and “Ne Me Quitte Pas” felt really good. Thanks for being a killer partner all night Michael! I thought that Verb performed well last night, as did BodyEDT. The audience seemed to appreciate the show a lot too! One of the front desk workers from our hotel even came, so sweet!!
The night finished off with a dinner out at a classic Taiwanese joint close to the theater. Lieneke had a friend named Celine from a college study abroad program who now dances for Cloud Gate (an amazing contemporary/modern dance company based out of Taipei) who came to our performance. Dinner was with Celine and her boyfriend, and the awesome stage manager Macy who also knew Celine from her school days, and Lieneke, Christina, and myself. I loved talking to them about growing up in Taipei and life with Cloudgate. They ordered a bunch of classic Taiwanese food us to try, but I was more conservative with my tasting for fear that some of the dishes might be cooked with meat. Don’t wanna make my stomach iffy before our last show tomorrow! I did have some Taiwanese beer that was really tasty. Thanks Celine and Macy!
Now it’s bedtime before our last performance tomorrow. I can’t believe it’s already here! I’m so sad! But ready to enjoy every last minute. Sorry I fail to keep these short, there’s just so much to me excited about😁
Good morning! Zhao! I’m writing from my bed the morning after opening night. I still can’t believe that happened! After my last post, I finished off my break by reworking my hair and makeup for the show and taking a mind-clearing walk around the inside of the theater. Then we joined in for the group theater prayer. Macy, our incredibly organized and kind stage manager (actually the entire stage crew is SO professional and amazing to work with) reassured me that my blunder with the apple earlier was really OK and that I hadn’t disappointment any ancestors…phew!
The prayer started with a table of food that the crew put out on stage as symbol of giving back to the theater in exchange for all it gives to us. I love that idea! We each received a stick of heavenly smelling incense and had the opportunity to rotate facing each wall of the theater and bow in gratitude and in hope of a safe and happy performance. Many dancers see their art form as a sort of religion or spiritual connection to something greater, and view theaters as an elevated place to practice (almost like a house of worship). So it made sense to pray, especially before such a big show. It was a beautiful experience.
Feeling blubbery and emotional once again, I was snapped back when Lieneke commented that they probably used incense for the prayer to clear out or stink from earlier. I wouldn’t be surprised if the ceremony served two purposes! Haha. Thank the theatre and make the stage smell nice! We stretched and took our second class for the day, this one shorter and easier so we could save our energy for the show. Then it was time to get in costume and perform!!
Waiting to go onstage, I couldn’t help but get sentimental and think about everything in my life that had led up to that moment. All of the doubts and moments of frustration and questioning, all of the people who didn’t believe in me or injuries that made me consider quitting. None of those things could touch me because I was about to dance on an international stage and perform a role that I loved. I thought about all of the people who had loved me and supported me along this crazy dance dream–teachers, family members (especially mom and dad❤), my boyfriend, my dogs (can’t forget them!) and I couldn’t help but smile about how lucky I am. And then I danced! And it was great! Not saying my dancing was great (as a professional I’ll always have critiques of things I can do better) but it went pretty well and most importantly I enjoyed the experience and felt that I connected with my partner, Stephaen, and with the audience. It was a special night indeed ✨
Ping asked us to go out into the lobby after the show to meet some of the audience members. The audience members, like most Taiwanese people I’ve interacted with, were very well behaved and respectful throughout the entire performance, and then wanted lots of selfies at the end! It’s great to see so many young people in the audience; the arts are supported by all ages here (probably because they’re prevalent in the schools). Kelly had one young dancer write her on Facebook that she was her inspiration for her dance dreams…so sweet!
Walking back to the hotel I saw another hip hop dance troop practicing on the street and joined in. I love street dance and never have the chance to do it in the states because of my busy busy schedule! Might as well get in some more dancing here while I can! Once again, everyone was very welcoming, and although they were speaking in Mandarin it was easy to communicate through movement.
The last thing I did before bed was eat a chocolate bar. Gotta celebrate these special nights! And now it’s time for another day with two more performances. Here we go!!