Martial Arts Ballet Featured in Concert Hall This Weekend

Posted: April 11, 2003 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

What is martial arts ballet, anyway? “The difference between this show and other theater,” explains Jose Figueroa, the martial arts choreographer for Voice of the Dragon: Once Upon a Time in Chinese America, “is it can be a little dangerous.”

This tale of a renegade Chinese monk and her discovery of the Shaolin Secret Scrolls promises kung fu, tai chi, and bouts of hand-to-hand boxing during performances at the Concert Hall tomorrow at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. An artistic discussion, free to ticketholders, is held 45 minutes prior to each performance on the Grand Tier.

“Martial arts can kick the butt of modern dance any day,” says Fred Ho, the Brooklyn-based brainchild composer, producer, writer, musician, and bandleader who invented the martial arts ballet. “It’s every bit a sophisticated, high-art form as ballet, with the freedom of modern dance. At the same time, it has to have a combat dimension to it.”

Set in 1600 A.D. China, during the early Ching Dynasty, Voice of the Dragon is the tale of Gar Man, a young girl raised by the Shaolin monks and trained in the mystical martial arts forms as well as the ancient teachings. As she grows, Man becomes disillusioned with the elders who raised her, her rebellion taking the form of a tragic deception involving the theft of the temple’s secret scrolls. The five disciples who taught her must now face the heartbreaking task of defeating her. The timely message is echoed at the show’s finale: “this is a story of loyalty and betrayal. It has been repeated throughout every century. As long as there is ambition without the honor and repeat of tradition, this story will continue to be told.”

Tickets are $25. Children 12 and under are admitted for half price. Charge by phone at (703) 218-6500 or visit

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