Young ensemble combines extraordinary skill and discipline
in entertaining dance performance
By Neville Bowman
Special to the Daily Courier
The Kelowna Community Concerts Association is well known for bringing in a variety of entertaining, and even challenging, musical performances, with artists who are always at a very high level of ability. On occasion though, the format changes and, instead of a sonic experience, we are treated to a wonderful visual spectacle.
The most recent performance was just that, presenting the much-anticipated Goh Ballet Youth Company from Vancouver.
The Goh Ballet is essentially a ballet school, but that doesn’t really do justice to the work accomplished there. Internationally recognized both for the successful careers of former students, and for the highly-regarded touring shows with its current roster, Goh Ballet is viewed by many as a step-off point to professional ballet companies.
If not a dancer yourself, you would be lucky to have the privilege of consulting Shawn Byfield and his wife, Nicole, both of whom are professional dancers and choreographers. They pointed out that Goh Ballet has such an in-depth knowledge of dance and the human body that they can push students to higher levels at an earlier age than most schools would do, with great attention to every detail.
One effective thing about the evening was that, because it is a school, you get to see dancers of various ages and levels of capability. The multiple choreographers who put together the show did a very good job of showcasing the range of talents, from ensemble numbers to solos and trios, even some contemporary dance, with gorgeous costumes completing the image.
Throughout the entire age and ability range of this group there were multiple award winners and, as they were pointed out, it was easy to see why. The artistry and athleticism on display was very impressive.
Tanya Phelps was the emcee for the evening. An instructor herself, she spoke before each set of dances, giving us a breakdown of the dance, some history, and helping us get to know the dancers themselves. For such an art form, that may be less familiar to some of us. It’s an aspect of performance I wouldn’t mind applied to other art forms.
Phelps was asked what may have been perceived as a rather ignorant question, but certainly wasn’t intended as such: Why does ballet matter? With the current trend of “everything new is good, everything old is bad,” we are curious why young people take on such a challenging discipline.
Her response was eloquent and meaningful (although not a direct quotation). She spoke of how the classical training of ballet gives the students a strong foundation, not just for exploration into other styles of dance, but also for application to life in general.
It comes from a time when discipline wasn’t a bad word, and the way in which Goh Ballet incorporates multicultural dance into classical ballet technique brings the art forward to a much more globally integrated and modern art form.
A quick crowd survey confirmed that one of the favourite dances of the night was a piece titled Colourful Clouds Chasing the Moon, a beautiful ensemble number combining ballet and traditional Chinese dance.
Neville Bowman is a local musician