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A nice little digital clock on a coffee table insisted it was 4 am. San Francisco was still murmuring in its sleep while Vanessa and Davit were all set and ready to hit the road for Taipei. By all means it was going to be a long day.

Principal dancers with one of the best ballet companies in the world – San Francisco Ballet – Vanessa Zahorian and Davit Karapetyan rarely travel lightly. And this time was no exception. Ahead was almost a week in the vibrant metropolis – Taiwan’s capital city. The schedule was pretty tight, too, as stage performances at The 9th International Ballet Stars Gala in Taipei could not be anything less than perfect.


Team Zarely asked Vanessa and Davit, who have been Zarely Role Models since the very launch of our company, to share the highlights of their Taipei adventure. And if you follow @Zarelywear on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter you, probably, have enjoyed the exclusive video stories we made together almost on the go. It is time to re-live these unforgettable moments and literally get inside their dancing shoes.

15 Absolute Travel Necessities by Vanessa Zahorian

Team Zarely: Vanessa, Davit, you are undoubtedly the world-class performers as achieving what you have already achieved in this ultra-competitive realm of professional ballet requires years and years of hard work, self-discipline and determination. And it is natural that many people (us included!) want to learn from you. Thank you for being so open and willing to share your hard-won wisdom! Let’s talk about your travel routines as you definitely know everything about staying in shape while crossing multiple time zones. Are there any voyage necessities that you always carry in your travel bag?

Vanessa Zahorian: My list of travel necessities is quite extensive! First of all it is a neck pillow to help me sleep and keep my neck from bending awkwardly when scrunched on the plane. Then go compression socks so that it’s easier to deal with swelling caused by change in altitude pressure. Melatonin – to help adjust to time change, Dramamine to help with sleeping and resting on plane, water to keep hydrated during the flight, Advil for possible inflammation, Zyrtec to help opening sinuses during flight and to deal with humidity and allergies once grounded.

Then go the items for comfort and rest: my earphones to listen to music, watch movies or simply drown out airplane noises; book or magazines to read on a long flight; hooded sweatshirt and extra pair of socks if it’s cold on a plane; booties to put over socks to go to the bathroom; snacks, toiletries and essentials to freshen up.

Most importantly, I always carry my pointe shoes and costumes on the plane with me in case my luggage is lost.

Davit Karapetyan: My list is a bit shorter. But just a bit! I always carry a wooden back roller which helps adjusting my back and keeps my muscles nice and loose. Then there is a softball for psoas massage, TheraBand for flexibility and upper body strength. Just like Vanessa I love my booties to keep my feet warm. And I never travel without my photo camera and a pair of earphones.

Team Zarely: Vanessa, what do you like doing during the flight then? You mentioned music, movies, books, magazines 🙂

Vanessa Zahorian: Well, ideally I’d sleep! If I have troubles falling asleep, I sometimes take Dramamine. But it is nice to have options, too. So I bring a book or a magazine just in case I feel like reading.

Ballerina’s Diet While Travelling

Team Zarely: What do you prefer eating during the trip? Do you have any special travel diet?

Vanessa Zahorian: I have a confession to make – I do like to eat the meals on the plane. But once on the ground it is all the basic dietary things again: drinking lots of water (at least 24 ounces a day), eating fruits and veggies and meats throughout day. And I am very much into tasting culinary specialties of the countries I travel to. In Taipei, for instance, I ate various rice dishes and dim sum pasta. Basically, every time we sat down to eat I went trying at least one new dish. The favorite thing I discovered during this journey was tang yuan – sweet rice balls with sesame filling. They are chewy on the outside and have warm sesame liquid butter inside. This sesame filling tastes somewhat like peanut butter to me. So delicious!

The 9th International Ballet Stars Gala – 5 Star Experience

Team Zarely: How did you like working with Tzer-Shing Wang, the mastermind behind The 9th International Ballet Stars Gala in Taipei?

Vanessa Zahorian: Tzer-Shing Wang is simply amazing! Davit knew her from prior Gala events. So this year they, Tzer-Shing and Davit, were discussing most of the details of our participation and performance. And I met her and her husband, Tzong, for the first time as we arrived at Taipei. Both of them were very welcoming! And they did such a great job organizing the Gala. Everything about our stay on Taiwan was 5 star! The culture, the people, the organization, the country, the theater, the hotel and its location. I loved every moment of it!

Team Zarely: How did you choose the pas to perform on stage of National Theater and Opera Hall in Taipei?

Vanessa Zahorian: We chose Rubies and Onegin because we had just performed them in our season with SFB. So it was easy to rehearse and get them together. We didn’t have much time to prepare.

Team Zarely: Many people are extremely curious to know what is it like to be hanging out with all these other ballet stars during event such as Taipei Gala?

Vanessa Zahorian: We did hang out a lot, it is true! Every night after rehearsals and performances we were going to dinner together. And most of us stayed at the same hotel so we were having breakfast together, too. And then we hung out backstage together. And we talked throughout the event in between rehearsals and before classes. Sometimes it was about getting advice on choreography, sometimes – catching up with different company lifestyles or talking about friends of friends. It’s a small ballet world, you know.

Team Zarely: What is your personal highlight of this trip?

Vanessa Zahorian: We absolutely fell in love with all of the Stars at the Gala and the presenters. Everyone got along so well and I felt as though I knew them for a long time.

The Taipei Story

Told by Vanessa Zahorian and Davit Karapetyan


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