Dance My Dreams

Date and Venue 24 May, 2008 | Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts

Director Yao Ping Zhu Lighting designer Itai Erda

Reviewer Ross Michael Pink

The gala event held at the Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts on June 24th to honor the Goh Ballet Academy 30th anniversary was an artistic and humanitarian success. As an artistic success, the performance was a showcase of young and emerging talent which only served to highlight why the Goh Ballet Academy has a superb Canadian and international reputation. From a humanitarian perspective, the performance was a benefit for the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation and the full audience offered generous support to this noble cause.

After impressive professional careers with top ballet companies in China, Choo Chiat and Lin Yee Goh immigrated to Canada in the mid-1970s and founded the Goh Ballet Academy in a basement studio. Today, in their impressive heritage building where the Academy has operated for the past several years, they have graduates who perform beautifully with major companies around the world.

One such graduate who performed with stellar magic is Yuka Ebihara. She is set to join the Norwegian Ballet next month. Her grace and superb technical skill will surely guide her to high ballet achievement in the coming years.

The ballet evening was introduced elegantly by Chan Hon Goh, daughter of the Choo Chiat and Lin Yee and now principal dancer with the National Ballet of Canada. She was joined on stage by legendary ballerina Evelyn Hart, who paid tribute to the Goh's and their daughter, who has rightfully assumed the mantle of leading Canadian ballerina.

The evening program featured the choreographic genius of George Balanchine, (1904-1983), Toru Shimazaki and Marius Petipa. The performances included Butterfly Lovers choreographed by Jian Rong Sheng; Grand Pas Classique by Victor Gsovsky; L’Estro Armonicos by Fiona Smith and Rise by Shimazaki.

The second portion of the evening featured the works, Valse Fantaisie choreographed by George Balanchine; Egyptian March by Fiona Smith; and Don Quixote Suite by Marius Petipa. The ballet performances were excellent and a showcase of the singular dedication and talent of the Goh Ballet Academy dancers and teachers.

A highlight of the evening was the Grand Pas Classique, danced with emotion and beauty by Meng Lu and Yuka Ebihara. Meng Lu, recipient of numerous awards, is a principal dancer with the Liaoning Ballet. He is an impressive dancer who moves with precision and style. His pairing with Ebihara was outstanding and a work of ballet beauty.

The Shimazaki piece, Rise, with numerous dancers involved had an Arabic-gypsy feel and vibrated with energy. Standouts included Claire Mitchell and Reid Cuming. The ending, where the dancers were bathed in thousands of falling dust sparkles was pure magic.

The Balanchine piece, Valse Fantaise, was an impressive work of movement and style.

Other young dancers who show rising talent and promise include, Miguel Nguyen and Stephanie Pedlow.

Special credit must also go to the silent stars who create the vivid and lush costuming and sets that allow the dancers to shine and the mood to be right. Production director, Yao Ping Zhu is masterful as are coordinators, Lee and Patricia Gahr; lighting designer, Itai Erdal; stage manager, Elizabeth Beddard and wardrobe mistress, Deborah Basterfield.

The evening, aptly titled, Dance My Dreams, was a celebration ballet art and style. The best compliment to the artistic work of teachers Choo Chiat and Lin Yee Goh is found in the magnificent performances of their students. The evening was a tribute to the Goh's and the marvelous world of ballet.

Interview with Chan Hon Goh

Interviewer Ross Michael Pink

The journey from demure dance student to graceful ballerina superstar has been exciting and eventful for Chan Hon Goh.

Born to illustrious dancers Choo Chiat Goh and Lin Yee Goh, who were ballet stars in China before immigrating to Vancouver, the dance path of Chan Hon was guided by hard work and superb ballet teachers.

Today, still looking like an energetic and beautiful 25 year old, Chan Hon Goh is the principal dancer with the National Ballet of Canada.

“What you see on stage,” explains Chan Hon, “is the seamless quality. The better dance gets that across but it means that you have to cover the difficulty of your work. There is a demand to exert yourself to the maximum yet make it look effortless.”

Chan Hon Goh started her professional career with the National Ballet of Canada in the early 1990s. Since then she has become renowned for projecting elegance in motion. Critics have also lauded her technical mastery of the intricacies of ballet..

“The better the artist, the less of yourself you see on stage, you disappear into the role. Every role is a personal interpretation. You should be the role, such as Odette, Giselle or Aurora, and not be the dancer.”

When not dancing with the NBC, Chan Hon keeps busy with other dance commitments. In July, she will be in Singapore to work with the Singapore Dance Theatre, founded by her aunt. Later in the summer, she will be in Japan to judge the Prix du Japan dance competition.

In addition to her performance work, Chan Hon Goh started a company which produces customized dance footwear. “My own foot injuries and three stress fractures led to the idea to develop a shoe line for dancers that combines comfort, style with sound medical principles to support foot care. These shoes are better designed to balance the weight of the dancer.”

The performance on June 24th will be a homecoming for Chan Hon Goh. It is also a chance to give back to the community as the event is in support of the Children’s Hospital. “We want to give back to the community and bring this ethic to the Goh Ballet school. As one grows as an artist, is important to support the wider community in which you live,” says Goh with conviction.

© 2008 Ross Michael Pink