Knowledge welcomes Chan Hon Goh, one of Canada’s most celebrated ballerinas, to our roster of talented on-air pledge hosts. Here, Chan gives us a look at life en pointe.
As a dancer in the National Ballet of Canada, Chan Hon Goh learned that Christmas didn’t necessarily mean gift-giving and holiday parties. It meant lots of hard work, with December bringing a hectic round of daily performances of The Nutcracker. Chan, who spent 10 years as principal dancer with the company, recalls the magic of performing the holiday classic – if not the aching toes.
“I danced every role and got to meet people who had grown up with The Nutcracker and become so attached to it,” says Chan.
“I remember thinking that it doesn’t matter how old you are, the story of a young girl and her dream of a fairytale journey is so touching.”
When Chan returned home to Vancouver and took the helm of the prestigious Goh Ballet Academy and Youth Company, she decided to stage her own production. Goh Ballet’s The Nutcracker has become an annual tradition that’s inspired many young ballerinas to pursue their own dreams of being the Sugar Plum Fairy. Some of those dancers will take steps – incredibly graceful ones – toward their dreams in the light-filled rehearsal rooms of the Goh Ballet and then on stage with featured guests from renowned international companies.
“I say to my dancers and their parents as well, motivation really has to come from within,” remarks Chan. “My motivation was that any time I heard music I wanted to move and express myself. It masked the muscular soreness and the tediousness of having to repeat sections over and over again. To me, it was doing something that I just loved.”
Although Chan has hung up her pointe shoes – at least as a professional dancer – she now fuels her passion for dance by inspiring and nurturing the next generation to jeté across the stage.
“I try to be as thorough as possible in exposing this terrific art form to young dancers, and making sure they have the support they need. I know how challenging it can be not only physically but also emotionally – how much a part of a person’s life it has to become.”
Between teaching, directing and community work, you’d think Chan wouldn’t have time to come on board as a pledge host. But this busy mom, who is also a donor, wanted to help spread awareness about Knowledge, which became part of her upbringing after immigrating to Vancouver in the late 1970s. Her mother, who along with Chan’s father founded the Goh Ballet (both were principal dancers with the Central Ballet of China), loved to watch Knowledge. Chan credits the station with helping her mother, an avid learner, pick up English. Chan’s son was a fan of the kids’ shows, especially The Magic School Bus. To Chan, the diversity and quality of the programming is what makes Knowledge unique.
“I equate supporting Knowledge with supporting the arts because, like the arts, it takes you to a place that money really can’t buy. It can open up your thinking, inspire you and change your perspective on things. So I feel that we should all be supporting a channel that allows us, when we choose, to access this departure.”