Elegance, discipline, strength. Just a few of the words that come to mind when we think of ballet. In our country, no one embodies the beautiful art form more than Chan Hon Goh, prima ballerina and former principal dancer with the National Ballet of Canada. We chatted with the woman herself to get the scoop on her recently wrapped Masterclass Series, her greatest career accomplishment and how she sees ballet changing in the future. —Rachel Johnston
Tell us about your Canadian Masterclass Series.
Our annual cross-Canada Masterclass Series is my chance to to travel across the country and impart some of my dance experiences, philosophy, artistic interpretations as well as expertise that I have garnered over the years. This time aims to propel a student’s progress as they venture to find a career in dance. I find it a fascinating learning experience each time to see how there are similarities and differences between cities, age groups and mostly the mindsets of the younger generation of dancers. I hope to empower these young dancers with additional tools that they will use to supplement their daily training. We wrapped up the Masterclass Series on March 15th, and are now focused on planning for our spring and summer programs in Vancouver, and opening a new studio in Toronto in a few months. Goh Ballet Bayview will encompass three state of the art dance studios within Bayview Village Shopping Centre which will invigorate our offerings in a new community.
What do you enjoy most about mentoring dance talent?
I enjoy contributing to their growth and individual development, to nurturing their potential and drawing the best out of them. It’s quite an individualized approach which calls upon my own exposures to methodologies that I have been fortunate to have learned from my teachers during the course of my career.
How have things changed in the professional dancing world since you first became the National Ballet of Canada’s prima ballerina?
The dance form keeps evolving and reflects changes in our society as well as the demands of popularity among the audience. The standard of dance keeps getting higher as dancers break new ground, and this is a time of innovation and creation.
And how do you see ballet evolving in years to come?
Ballet will always be a traditional art form when it’s at its purest, and that is something that I love about it. When it’s done well, the dancers that are performing these ballets are the ones to bring it to life at that point in time. Ballet is capable of evolving and keeping current with the times and will continue to move forward as long as we have choreographers that can fuel the capabilities of dancers, infusing them with their own imagination.
What has been your greatest accomplishment in your career so far?
I think my greatest accomplishment thus far is waking up every day and loving what I do. I am grateful to be a mother, a wife, an artist, a businesswoman and to be able to put my ideas to practice in meaningful ways.
And your most memorable performance?
It’s very difficult to pinpoint just one! There are several performances that will always come to mind, such as my debut in Romeo and Juliet, dancing at the Royal Danish Ballet for the Queen of Denmark, or my final performance of Giselle and having my son and husband come on stage to present me with a bouquet of flowers.