East Meets West: Vancouver International Dance Festival

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Vancouver’s Goh Ballet teams up with China’s Guangdong Modern Dance Company for VIDF.

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

For their first performance at VIDF, Vancouver’s Goh Ballet is collaborating with China’s Guangdong Modern Dance Company (GMDC) for a historic interdisciplinary show.

“Opportunities like this for young dancers — to be at a festival and share the stage with a different style and culture of company — will enrich their future development,” said Chan Hon Goh, Artistic Director of the Goh Ballet. “I hope they will take something very special away from it.”

 

Goh has known GMDC artistic director Willy Tsao for years. “We have a long association with GMDC and Willy Tsao,” said Goh, who is very enthusiastic about this collaboration: “It’s the first time we’ll be collaborating and creating a new piece, and all involved will be artistically growing.”

The idea for this collaboration originally came from Goh herself. “I was the one to put the idea forward. I saw Willy in China and from that conversation we had the idea to collaborate.” She also wanted to make sure this show could reach as broad an audience as possible: “I thought it should be featured as part of a dance festival. I approached Jay and Barbara [VIDF organizers] and they immediately wanted to feature it.”

This partnership is more than this performance at VIDF; it’s a cultural exchange that will see Goh Ballet travel to China to perform in 2015 at a GMDC hosted dance festival. “It’s an exchange, another level for the dancers to also experience audience appreciation in China,” said Goh.

The two companies only have two weeks together, but Goh described rehearsals as off to a great start: “There is mutual respect. People kept absorbing from each other; it went by in a flash.”

The dancers are different ages and come from different cultural and training backgrounds, but they do have something in common, said Goh. It’s the “sense of dedication and the need to want to explore a little deeper and get a bit more into what the choreographer is asking. There’s a drive and desire to go one step further.”

For their collaboration, GMDC resident choreographer Liu Qi has created a new work called Mustard Seed. GMDC will be performing another of her works from their repertoire, titled Voice After. The Goh Ballet will perform Ballanchine’s Walspurgisnacht Ballet, which they acquired for their 35th anniversary show in June 2013. “We wanted something really representative of who we are, and one that would complement the other two pieces.”

Goh said that her company is delighted to be performing in their first appearance at VIDF, and she is also looking forward to seeing some of the other shows, including Israel Galvan from Spain. “The line-up is tremendous,” she said, “Everyone has such a different voice.”

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