Dates and Venue 14 – 22 December 2013, 7.30pm 14, 20 & 21 December and 2pm on 14, 15, 21 & 22 December | The Centre in Vancouver, 777 Homer Street
Executive Producer Chan Hon Goh Choreographer Anna-Marie Holmes Principal Dancers Ulrik Birkkjaer & Gudrun Bojesen Conductor Kenneth Hsieh with Vancouver Opera Orchestra Set & Costume Design Dinghao Zhang & Ming Li Lighting Design Pierre Lavoie
Reviewer Nancie Ottem
Last night was the opening night of the Goh Ballet Nutcracker, a magical evening that now, in its fifth year, has become a tradition in Vancouver. It is an enveloping experience that starts upon entering the lower lobby where guests are greeted with the sound of traditional Christmas carols. The sense of anticipation for the evening to come is heightened by the sound of these carols and one can see the excitement mirrored in the faces of the many children who have come to enjoy Nutcracker on opening night.
Chan Hon Goh, executive producer, welcomed the audience to Vancouver’s Nutcracker and thanked all present for their support. She told the audience that for tonight’s performance a special guest, Gregor Robertson, would be in the party scene. He certainly carried out his role well and with ease. A second calling may be in his future.
With the opening remarks concluded, Kenneth Hsieh waved his baton and the magic began. To the opening strains of the Tchaikovsky score, played by the Vancouver Opera Orchestra, the party guests came down the aisles with an effect that carried the audience onto the stage with them. It is a wondrous feeling to see all of the collaboration that goes into a production of this scale come together and blend into an evening that gives so much joy.
The set and costume design (Dinghao Zhang & Ming Li) are opulent in colour and pattern. From the opening party scene with richly decorated walls to the forests that hang in heavy snow to the beauty of the Russian architecture that frames the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier Prince one is transported to a magical world.
The colourful costumes add energy to the production as well as being a feast for the eyes. There are many instances when the colour of the costumes are reflected in the tone of the backdrops. It is a detail that adds to the overall impact of a scene.
Funny and joyous moments occur often in the Goh Ballet Nutcracker that put a smile on the faces of those in the audience. Felix jumping out of an apparently empty box with the magic of Drosselmeyer, the little bon bon waving goodbye from under the skirt of Mother Ginger, the impishness of the little black sheep and of course, the battle of the mice and the soldiers keep adults and children enthralled.
The choreography (Anna-Marie Holmes) flowed with a strong pace that moved the production along from one scene to another. Holmes made it look effortless even though many scenes required a host of dancers to move with each other in patterns that were beautifully executed.
All in all, with the strong dance that Gudrun Bojesen and Ulrik Birkkkjaer brought to the evening, the magic of Drosselmeyer (Damien Carriere) and the performances of the more than 200 dancers and gymnasts who came from dance schools all over the Lower Mainland this was a very special evening.
Vancouver has been fortunate to have had many Nutcracker productions visit our city over the years from other provinces and other countries. Now we have a Nutcracker that is our own. The Goh Ballet Nutcracker over the last five years has earned our support and is very deserving of it. They have created a magical tradition that will add to the joys of the season for many years to come.
© 2013 Nancie Ottem
Interview with Chan Hon Goh
Interviewer Michael Pink
Chan Hon Goh, the daughter of Goh Ballet founders Choo Chiat and Lin Yee Goh, had an illustrious dance career with the National Ballet of Canada.
It is only fitting that Chan has taken over the reins of Goh Ballet as Artistic Director and Executive Producer of the Goh Ballet Nutcracker Ballet for the last five years. The Goh Ballet version of Nutcracker has been hailed in many dance circles as the one to watch.
As a dancer of unparalleled grace, elegance and technical brilliance, Chan understands the dance world as few others can. She brings a rich eye for beauty and dance perfection to her role as Executive Producer of the Nutcracker combined with a winning personality that allows her to navigate creative relationships successfully.
“This is the fifth year we are doing the Nutcracker” says Goh, “it is a huge production, we have a full crew, full orchestra and over 200 dancers.”
Goh feels passionately about the value of this holiday classic which extends beyond dance. “The Nutcracker Ballet benefit for our dance community is immeasurable and I say this with a passionate heart. Through this production young dancers learn and develop. The Nutcracker has also proven to be part of a holiday tradition. It appeals to all ages and becomes a family celebration.”
As Artistic Director
of the Goh Ballet, Chan has to wear many artistic and management hats.
“I realized the needs of dancers who are at different ages and different stages of development. My aim is to make the program go well and to develop dancers and the Goh Ballet. We are also building career paths and each stage has to be done with a lot of talent and care.“
The dance world is an inventive one and there are always new projects in the works. Goh is excited about the upcoming June 2014 production. “We will do Aurora’s Awakening which is an adaption from Sleeping Beauty. It will be presented at the Playhouse Theatre and has numerous parts to delight the audience.”
Goh Ballet has become a dance icon in Vancouver and performs around the world. For the Goh Ballet and Chan Goh, the future of dance is full of promise and inspiring performances to share with dance enthusiasts locally and globally.
© 2013 Michael Pink