Arts & Culture

Former Ballerinas Impressed by ‘beautifully rehearsed’ Dancers in Spectacular

BY Joan Delaney TIMESeptember 25, 2008 PRINT
Vanessa Harwood at Toronto's John Bassett Theatre.  (Victor Chen/The Epoch Times)
Vanessa Harwood at Toronto's John Bassett Theatre. (Victor Chen/The Epoch Times)

TORONTO—When the Mid-Autumn Spectacular unfolded on the stage at Toronto’s John Bassett Theatre on Thursday evening, its stunning visuals and full orchestral sound delighted the audience, including one of Canada’s most accomplished dancers.

Vanessa Harwood, a former principal dancer with the National Ballet of Canada, is also a choreographer, artistic director, teacher and actor. It was Ms Harwood’s second time seeing the Spectacular.

“I enjoyed it again very much. As you know it’s my second time and once again I’m still taken with my Mongolian dancers. They’re still my favourite even though the whole program was very delightful. And the two MC’s were great too … very funny.”

Ms. Harwood said it was “very nice” to see Michelle Ren, one of the principal dancers in the Spectacular.

“She’s beautiful. She was delightful, very passionate. She has more experience and you can feel that in her portrayals of some of the more emotional things.”

Ms. Harwood attended the show with her friend, Nadia Potts, director of Ryerson’s Dance Program and also a former principal dancer in the National Ballet. It was her first time to see the Spectacular.

“I really enjoyed it,” said Ms. Potts. “I was impressed by the ardency and the passion of the dancers and how beautifully rehearsed they are. They all seem to really enjoy what they’re doing.”

Ms. Potts, who recently published Betty Oliphant: The Artistry of TeachingA Series of Ballet Classes, said she was “impressed by the women. They do things with scarves and with fans and with drums, and I’m thinking, what next? And shoes. And chopsticks. So it’s very impressive.”

Both women agreed that the dancers were very well rehearsed and very expressive.

“The feet are very different, and the hands and everything because it’s all very specific – where the hands go, the way the arms are held, where the head is held and so on. And they’re very true to it …. It was beautiful,” said Ms. Harwood.

“Everything has meaning,” added Ms. Potts. “Sometimes we miss that in today’s performers, where everybody is involved with what they’re doing.”

She said she enjoyed the orchestra and especially the pianist, while Ms. Harwood was impressed by the haunting sound of the erhu, a two stringed Chinese violin.

The Spectacular depicts the essence of China’s ancient culture, which included values, principles, and the virtues of Truthfulness, Compassion and Forbearance.

“The whole thing with Truth, Compassion and Forbearance is something that we all need to think about generally,” said Ms. Potts. “It should be very helpful for us to hopefully face the future.”

Additional reporting by New Tang Dynasty Television

The Mid-Autumn Festival is one of China’s most ancient and cherished holidays. The Spectacular expresses Chinese classical dance and showcases authentic traditional Chinese culture. Through background scenery, costumes, and choreography, the Spectacular expresses truthfulness, compassion, and pure beauty. China’s history comes to life in this gorgeous performance that is entertaining, inspiring, and uplifting. The show’s content is presented in both Chinese and English. For more information, visit :

Joan Delaney
Senior Editor, Canadian Edition
Joan Delaney is Senior Editor of the Canadian edition of The Epoch Times based in Toronto. She has been with The Epoch Times in various roles since 2004.
You May Also Like