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Romeo and Juliet With Kung Fu

Updated: Oct 31, 2023


The worlds of classical high culture and kung fu met

this weekend in New York as the Hong Kong Ballet brought their version of "Romeo and Juliet" - set in 1960s Hong Kong and replete with kung fu fight scenes - to the stage at the New York City Center. The performance featured a mix of barehanded martial arts along with sticks, staffs and butterfly knives.

The fights were choreographed by martial arts expert Hing Chao, one of the world's most respected authorities on southern-style Chinese martial arts. According to Chao, the fight scenes featured elements of three classic southern kung fu styles, hung kuen, Fujian white crane and wing chun, which would have been common in 1960s Hong Kong.

This presented quite a challenge to the choreography, said Chao, since the southern styles tend to feature performers being solidly planted on the ground to generate power while ballet is made up of light movements and frequently involves being off the ground.

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