What: Goh Ballet’s The Nutcracker
When: Friday, Dec. 19 to Monday, Dec. 22 (various times)
Where: MY Millennium Place
Admission: $22.50, children, $35 students and seniors, $37.50
It’s as festive as wrapping paper and bows, eggnog and turkey
dinner — The Nutcracker ballet, with its pirouetting and plié-ing Fritz,
Clara and Sugar Plum Fairy, is symbolic of Christmas to many. And for yet
another season, the Goh Ballet Academy is bringing its interpretation of the
classic performance to Whistler, for four days of performances at MY Millennium
Artistic director and founder, Choo Chiat Goh, started the
renowned Goh Ballet Academy in 1978. Born in Singapore, Goh studied ballet at
the Royal Ballet School in England, and then at the age of 17, moved to China
to study with a Russian master. He also studied with the Peking Dance Academy,
and for 20 years, was the principal dancer of the Central Ballet Company, which
later became the Beijing National Ballet Company.
After a self-described “cultural revolution,” Goh moved to
Canada, where he decided to found his own small dance academy in the basement
of a building. The small school has evolved into a world-renowned ballet
academy, attracting young talent from around the world — America,
Australia, Spain, and Hong Kong.
Today, the Academy includes a junior school, offers adult
classes, and boasts an impressive roster of professional dancers.
“My Academy is split up in two divisions,” Goh explained. “One
is a professional division, one is a general division.”
This has been a special year for the Goh Ballet Academy, as it
celebrated its 30th anniversary in the summertime with a performance, which
included a modern piece by a graduate student, Dorothy Masaki, a version of Don
Quixote, and other classical dances.
“The audience, the parents, all of the friends were very happy
to see the wonderful performance that we held in June,” Goh said.
But the performance they are bringing back to Whistler is a
timeless Christmas classic — the tale of The Nutcracker, which the
Academy’s professional troupe has been performing for almost 10 years.
The Academy strives to introduce new interpretations of
classic, full-length productions. The Nutcracker is one such performance.
“We are using a lot of different dance in The Nutcracker,” he
said, pointing out that all of the child dancers from the academy have also
been included in the performance.
And each year, they work on taking the holiday performance to
“Every year, we really improve,” he said. “…It’s getting better
and better each year.”
By next year, they hope to have established a professional
company production of The Nutcracker.
“Our city needs our own company here to do The Nutcracker, to
do a proper Nutcracker, and one that is at international level, not local
level,” he said.
The performance appeals to a universal audience — young
and old, ballet lovers and non alike.
“It’s performed every year in December during the holiday
season. The Nutcracker is always popular for the audience,” Goh said. “…They
love to celebrate the Christmastime by seeing the ballet.”
Typically, Goh Ballet’s performance of The Nutcracker features
over 100 dancers, but because of space limitations at the Whistler venue, they
perform a scaled-down version of the dance, using only about 20 professionals.
The eight principal dancers include Stephanie Pedlow and Alison Burgess in the
shared role of the Snow Queen and Sugar Plum Fairy; Reid Cuming and Ken Guan as
the Prince; the Mouse King and Magician are played by Cheston Repola and Miguel
Nguyen; Clara is played by Janica Grenier and Candice Gordon, while Fritz is
played by Theo Duff-Grant. This year, they’re also incorporating dancers from a
local ballet program into the piece.
A big aspect of the performance is, of course, the stunning
props and costumes that are featured in the spotlight, alongside the talented
This will be the third time the Goh Ballet dancers have come to
Whistler to perform The Nutcracker.
“We are very happy to go to Whistler again and perform for the
Whistler audience,” Goh said. “…It’s very nice that this time, we can go to
Whistler and show our young talent there.”
In previous years, the performance has been co-presented by MY
Millennium Place, with the facility and staff helping them to break into the
local market. But Dennis Marriott, general manager of the facility, explained
that the annual Christmas performance has gained such a strong following that
it no longer requires Millennium Place support and promotion.
“We had great sold-out shows and they’re able to stand on their
own,” he said.
Even before the performances were announced, Marriott said they
had received a lot of inquiries at MY Millennium Place about the show.
“It seems like the traditional thing to do at Christmas, so we
had lots of interest,” he said.
Ticket sales for all performances are going strong, but tickets are still available at www.ticketmaster.ca .