Prima Ballerina Chan Hon Goh

An Interview with Chan Hon Goh - Director, Goh Ballet Academy and Youth Company Canada

Interviewer Ross Michael Pink

When: June, 2021

RMP: Describe the journey from Canada's leading ballerina to Goh Ballet artistic director.

CHG: It has been 12 years, almost to the day, that I retired as Principal Dancer of the National Ballet of Canada and moved back to Vancouver a month later. The transition, as one might think, should be a natural one but there were many things which I was not prepared for. Things like, the management of people; staff and contractors as compared to being managed, the ungratifying work behind the scenes, supporting the community emotionally and many more that took me by storm. I had expected to be able to face all challenges and yet I feel the thing that was perhaps the biggest challenge was stepping away from the spotlight and being able to capably shine it on others. Fast track 12 years later, as I continue this journey, I have found meaning to contribute in many other ways to the fostering and cultivation of the artform that has been a part of my life since I was born. The 2 positions are drastically different, but the constant drive is the love of dance; my passionate pursuit to raise the barre from different perspectives as an artist. Perhaps the question now is: which position do I like better?

RMP: What has delighted you in this role?

CHG: Each day that I arrive at the studio, I have a sense of curiosity as to what the day might hold. No doubt that it is always packed with never ending administrative, programing, decision making matters to contend with but what is most delightful is to see the work come alive. This takes form from a dancer realizing a step or a variation, a new artistic collaboration, creating a new piece or just simply teaching or watching a class. Discovering and developing potential is a constant source of motivation for me.

RMP: What surprises and challenges have emerged?

CHG: Besides what was mentioned already, my biggest learning is being able to answer this question in any given situation: Do you want to be respected or loved? The approaches and reactions bring different results.

RMP: Can you describe upcoming dance events 2022-2023 when live performances resume?

CHG: We can’t wait to fully realize our artistic outlets and aspirations when we can safely come out on the other side of this pandemic. We hope to be able to get back into the theatre as early as December 2021 with our acclaimed production of The Nutcracker. We will be inviting international teachers to conduct masterclasses and choreographic workshops in our senior school. Our students will all be able to join in festivals and competitions in person and we will be able to showcase our work on stage. In June of 2022, we will present the full-length ballet Don Quixote. A month-long tour in the province of BC is forecasted as well as reviving the many community presentations that we do throughout the year.

RMP: Can you describe some of the impressive young dancers at the Goh Ballet?

CHG: If you ask me, each one of them is impressive in their own regard simply because they danced during the pandemic but, I understand what you are asking. Well, the high achievers are abundant, and it makes my life happier to see them take the spotlight. Being a private training institution, we have produced more competition medalist than any other school in Canada. This is a track record that we hold in high regard as we prepare our students on their path towards a professional career. In the recent 3 year we have brought home the gold medal or top prizes from TanzOlymp-Germany, Prix de Lausanne-Switzerland, Ballet Beyond Borders-USA, Global Dance Challenge-China, Youth America Grand Prix-USA. These dancers who represented Vancouver, Canada are all between the ages of 14 to 18 years of age and excel in both Classical and Contemporary repertoire. 2

RMP: Can you describe the growth of Canada's dance scene over the past 10 years and what to expect in the future?

CHG: I am inspired with the continued innovation of our Canadian dance companies who lead the scene with commissioning new choreography and break barriers of crossing genres. I also have such respect for the preservation of the great classics and the ability of our companies to present them well. I expect to see a lot more use of technology and that goes both in terms of presenting and receiving the enjoyment of dance.

RMP: What are 3 short term goals for Goh Ballet?

CHG: Restore, Expand, Succeed.

RMP: As Canada's leading ballerina and now a superb artistic director, what advice can you offer to aspiring dancers and choreographers?

CHG: I believe that now is not a time to follow in the footsteps but to find your own. It’s hard to find the courage but if you have something to share, the world is ready to receive. We can only grow from finding out.

© 2021 Ross Michael Pink