Two CT dancers performed in Taiwan during pandemic, said it was a 'relief' to take the stage

Dancers Lauren Beadle of Stamford and Joe Harrison of Berlin can now add interior decorator to their resume. Not really, but while stuck in a Taiwan hotel room for a two-week quarantine before a dance tour, they immediately rearranged the furniture in their room to create space to exercise and rehearse.

The two were among 90 dancers who performed in the Irish musical “Lord of the Dance’s Feet of Flames” in Taiwan from Dec. 11 to 16. Due to COVID-19 policies, touring during a global pandemic was a trial by fire of sorts.

Before flying from the United States to Taiwan, the two had to procure work visas and be tested for COVID-19, then quarantine in the foreign hotel rooms before they could perform. While many other performers saw their shows canceled and resorted to doing Zoom concerts and the like, these dancers feel fortunate they were able to perform during a pandemic.

“The first thing I did was move my bed up against a wall to make room, because I knew I would be doing a lot of dancing,” Harrison said, noting they rehearsed over Zoom with their fellow dancers in addition to taking strength training and yoga classes online during quarantine.

Their first rehearsal, Dec. 9, was the first one for the dance company in nine months, and preparations were condensed from two weeks to just 2½ days.

Due to Taiwan’s low number of COVID cases, there were no restrictions on audience sizes and no required social distancing, but people wore masks everywhere. Even performing to large crowds in huge outdoor amphitheaters, Harrison said the locals made them feel very safe at all times.

“One of the highlights was being able to stand on stage and see thousands and thousands of people standing directly next to each other cheering for you, because that’s not something I ever imagined I would be able to see this year or even next year, honestly,” Beadle said.

Beadle and about half of the dance company were brand new. She began competitive Irish dancing when she was 7 and has been dancing professionally for a few years.

Harrison is a “Lord of the Dance” veteran, having worked his way up from the company’s alternate troupe to its Broadway troupe. He is now part of the main troupe’s core cast.

Beadle said the highlight of the tour was getting to perform, and her favorite dance was the iconic “Lord of the Dance” number, which closed the first half of the show each night.

“It was amazing. I think out of all my performances, they were the largest crowds I’ve ever performed in front of ... And on top of that, it was during a pandemic,” she said.

Harrison was excited about being back together with his fellow dancers, most whom he had not seen since March, when the tour he was on in Germany was cut short.

“The biggest highlight for me was the very first show we did,” he said. “It was an amazing experience to be back on stage and a huge relief to be back doing what we love.”

Harrison said most of their shows are indoors, usually in smaller theaters, and the first show was in an outdoor amphitheater.

“Being able to look out and see the city skyline behind the crowd that had gathered, it’s just absolutely incredible.”

With “Lord of the Dance” celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2021 and founder Michael Flatley reportedly considering a reboot, both dancers say they are hopeful tours will resume soon and they will be included.

“As a dancer, you do find work wherever it comes, but ‘Lord of the Dance’ has been my main show since 2017 or so,” Harrison said.

Andrea Valluzzo is a freelance writer.