NEW YORK (PIX11) — It is the love story most have heard about. The classic romance of Romeo and Juliet has made many audiences fall in love repeatedly since its original publication in the 16th century. Now, Shakespeare’s play brings the passion and tragedy of prohibited love through the precise moves of the Hong Kong Ballet. 

“It is Romeo and Juliet, right? They are still the characters, but the relationship is slightly different,” said Chinese-born Xuan Cheng, who plays Juliet. “I have danced to different versions of Romeo and Juliet throughout my career. I think with this specific version because it is set in 1960s Hong Kong background, I think the specialty is how it adapted the story to have that Hong Kong flavor and the twist of the characters.”

In the adaptation, Juliet is the daughter of a Shanghainese tycoon who is determined to marry his only daughter off to a wealthy man. 

The ancient grudges between rival families are brought to life with choreography by Septime Webre and inspired by traditional Hong Kong-style Kung Fu.

“Septime created this world that is inside of Hong Kong,” said Alexander Yap, who plays an adapted version of Tybalt, from the classic novel. “And the way that everyone is dressed, even the ethnicity of the cast, helps bring up this whole world of 1960s Hong Kong.” 

Created in 1979, Hong Kong ballet is one of Asia’s most important dance companies. And it is also a celebration of diversity. On stage, there are 50 dancers from all over the world — from native Hong Kong to other parts of Asia, Australia, Europe, and North America.

“We got dancers from China, Korea, Japan, good old USA,” said dancer Albert Gordon. “It is really representative of Hong Kong because it is a very international city. So, we got people from all over the place.” 

The Hong Kong Ballet performs Romeo and Juliet only on Friday and Saturday at New York City Center.

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