By Katherine Moore
Established in 1978 and currently under the direction of Chan Han Goh, the former Prima Ballerina of the National Ballet of Canada, the Goh Ballet Academy is one of the premier dance institutions in Vancouver for ballet. With wide-ranging educational programming and performances, Goh Ballet plays an integral part in Vancouver’s dance scene, as well as in the international ballet community.
Not only does Goh Ballet provide high-caliber, classical ballet training for ages 4 and up, but they also offer educational outreach classes and performances throughout the Vancouver area. These programs help educate and create a solid, family-oriented audience for Goh Ballet’s biggest production of the year, The Nutcracker, which they just presented during the Christmas season.
Artistic Director Goh said, “The Nutcracker is a family-oriented production; we aim to make the show appealing to the whole family. The show is full of classical ballet for dance enthusiasts, heart-warming comedy and acting, and delightful costumes and scenery, so this production really suits all ages.”
In addition to being family-friendly, Goh’s production of The Nutracker is both professional and collaborative. Using over 200 performers of all ages, Goh brings together ballet dancers, gymnasts, magicians, acrobats, ballroom dancers, and even untrained people to create a magical performance with full sets, costumes, and lighting.
This past production, Goh Ballet brought guest dancers Michele Wiles and Corey Stearns from ABT into the mix. Goh felt fortunate to have principal dancers from New York City in their production.
“They bring top-class performance to our stage and inspire our entire performance team, ” she said.
Goh Ballet’s commitment to professionalism and cultural exchange does not end with The Nutcracker. It extends throughout the year with the training of young ballet students, especially through their comprehensive 4-week International Summer Intensive.
Every summer, Goh Ballet attracts diverse students from all over the world, including the USA, China, Japan, and Brazil, in addition to local students in Vancouver and other parts of Canada. While the program focuses primarily on classical ballet technique and partnering, Goh Ballet also believes it is important for dance students to gain exposure to other dance and movement forms, such as contemporary, musical theater, and pilates, in order to succeed in the dance world.
Similarly, Goh Ballet brings in an internationally-renowned faculty to teach during the intensive, making it an alluring program to young dancers. Emily Grace Simpson, a former participant of the summer intensive, said that this, in conjunction with the variety of dance styles taught, was instrumental in her decision to attend the intensive.
“[The] teachers are sought after around the world, and many of them are dancers that students look up to and admire. This inspires young dancers to keep going until they are able to achieve their own dreams,” Simpson said.
Students’ dreams are clearly at the forefront of Goh Ballet’s mission as they educate students in their Academy and the Goh Ballet Youth Company, which just returned from a tour in China. International exposure is a crucial element to a Goh Ballet professional education, and Goh even encourages students to do international exchanges in other programs to gain this experience.
“Our goal is to give students the tools and knowledge to become the best dancers they can be,” said Goh.
For students and audiences alike, Goh Ballet supports classical ballet at its best: high-caliber dance performance and training within a culturally-enriched, global community.
Photos: David Cooper Photography, courtesy of the Goh Ballet.