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
National Theatre and Concert Hall in Taipei, Taiwan

Read our blog for updates about the dancers experience in Taiwan

Day 14- last day in Taipei☹️


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!


Our last show, in front of the national theater, embroidery friends, New fans, packing, night markets, pineapple cake, and hunting for colored contacts and other weird things

On our way back from the theatre. #verbballets #ontour #architecture #amazing #nightphotography (at Taipei, Taiwan)

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When your a dancer you can’t help but dance everywhere. Nothing like street dance. #verbballets #ontour #streetdance #taipei #sofun #dance #arteverywhere (at Taipei, Taiwan)

Day 12- Double Show Day


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😁

Night night!


Pretty street electrical boxes, Taiwanese lunch, coffee runs, richard and the verb bonsai tree, our hotel desk worker friend, michael and I in our Ne Me Quitte Pas outfits, and dinner with Macy and Cloud Gate dancers!

Day 12-Post opening night!


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!!



Taiwanese lunches, the national theatre, some fans, and late night hip hop

Made the cover of Taipei Times!

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Verb Ballets

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.

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