Goh, Chan Hon 1969-

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GOH, Chan Hon 1969-


Born February 1, 1969, in Beijing, China; immigrated to Canada, 1977; daughter of Choo Chiat (founder of Goh Ballet Academy) and Lin Yee (principal of Goh Ballet Academy) Goh; married Chun Che (a dance instructor), August 29, 1997. Ethnicity: "Chinese." Education: Trained in ballet by her father at Goh Ballet Academy.


Home—26 Rowanwood Ave., Toronto, Ontario M4W 1Y7, Canada.


Dancer. National Ballet of Canada, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, member of corps de ballet, 1988, promoted to second soloist, 1990, promoted to first soloist, 1992, promoted to principal dancer, 1994—; Suzanne Farrell Ballet, guest dancer. With husband, designer and owner of Principal Shoes. Served on advisory panel, Metro Toronto Arts Council, 1991-93, and as cultural advisor to the Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Toronto.


Solo Seal Award, Royal Academy of Dancing; Lausanne Prize, International Competition of Dance (Lausanne, Switzerland), 1986; silver medal, Adeline Genee Competition (London, England), 1988; named among Women of Achievement, Chatelaine magazine, 1988.


(With Cary Fagan) Beyond the Dance: A Ballerina's Life, Tundra Books (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2002.


With the aid of Cary Fagan, prima ballerina Chan Hon Goh tells her personal story in Beyond the Dance, which Allan Ulrich dubbed an "illuminating quasi-memoir," in a Dance review. Although both of Goh's parents were professional ballet dancers in China, after they immigrated to Canada when their daughter Chan was only eight years old, they did not encourage her to dance. Instead, they promoted other creative activities, like playing the piano and singing, allowing Chan to take a dance lesson at her father's academy in Vancouver only once a week. Nevertheless, as Goh later recounted, in the same way she determinedly learned English and excelled in her studies, she finally convinced her parents to allow her to dance with a serious intent. "Dancing has almost been, since the minute I was born, in my blood," Goh told Joanna Slater of the Far Eastern Economic Review.

During the mid-1980s, Goh attracted considerable attention, winning international ballet competitions, and in 1988, she was asked to join the National Ballet of Canada, based in Toronto. There she quickly rose from the corps to become a principal dancer and has appeared in numerous coveted classical roles as well as world premieres of contemporary works. Knowing that a dancer's professional life is short, she and husband Chun Che founded the firm Principal Shoes, that designs and sells a line of pointe and slipper ballet shoes for men and women. Another part of Goh's life involves sharing her secrets of success. "I wrote my autobiography to inspire hope," Goh once explained, "determination, and perseverance in today's young adults infused in our multi-cultural (multiracial) society. With my Chinese-immigrant background and being the first Chinese-Canadian to hold the position of principal dancer at the National Ballet of Canada, I am proof that dreams can be realized."

In Beyond the Dance, Goh details her childhood in China, the family's immigration to Canada and the challenges they faced as immigrants, and Goh's rise to prominence in ballet. She also gives a close look at what a career in dance involves. "At present, I am a mature artist at the height of my career," she once noted, "and I want my readers to have the opportunity to see me dance on stage as well as to read my story. I also want to offer my readers more insight on the road to becoming a professional (ballerina) dancer."

Considering such aspects as writing style, choice of photographs, and reader appeal, reviewers found much to like about this autobiography. In her School LibraryJournal review, Cheri Estes called the work "highly readable" and "overwhelmingly positive" in tone. Indeed, Goh believes that hard work led to her success, as she recalled at the Canadian Living Web site: "My family's experience taught me not to be afraid of the hard work, and to persevere. Overcoming difficulty was a natural way of life." Eva Wilson of Resource Links found the language "somewhat stilted," yet asserted that the interesting subject matter overcomes this stylistic defect. Janice Linton of Canadian Materials suggested that while the narrative misses visceral appeal and "lacks drama," the simple language and the success story of an immigrant family would make this title a good choice for students learning English as a second language.



Canadian Materials, January, 2003, Janice Linton, review of Beyond the Dance.

Chinatown News, March 18, 1994, Max Wyman, "Chan Hon Goh: Canadian National Ballet's Principal Dancer," p. 14.

Dance, August, 1994, Deidre Kelly, "The Actress," p. 64; April, 2003, Paula Citron, "Ballerina as Entrepreneur," pp. 22-23; June, 2003, Allan Ulrich, review of Beyond the Dance, p. 70.

Far Eastern Economic Review, February 19, 1998, Joanna Slater, "On Her Toes," p. 70.

Resource Links, February, 2003, Eva Wilson, review of Beyond the Dance, pp. 49-50.

School Library Journal, Cheri Estes, review of Beyond the Dance, p. 182.


Canadian Living,http://www.canadianliving.com/ (June 24, 2003), Karen Brown and Nancy Eskin, "Chan Hon Goh."

National Ballet of Canada,http://www.national.ballet.ca/ (June 24, 2003), "Chan Hon Goh."

Perspectives,http://perspectives.ubc.ca/ (February, 2003), review of Beyond the Dance.

SEE Magazine,http://greatwest.ca/ (March 21, 2002), Salena McDougall, "World of Dance: A Gala Performance."*